The Freedom Writers DiaryTeaching Hope
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The freedom writers diary has the students write diary entires about there experiences. One student talks about how she probably drives a new car. One of the students talk about how long they believe she will last as a teacher. There is a white student who the other students believe looks like he should be somewhere else but does. The young white student says that he feels he going to be attacked. He states that he will clam he in the class because of computer error and he thinks that they will believe him cause he white. Theses students seem to have it hard for many resons and I feel that beacause they get to express their stories in writing it will allow them to have an outlet to express themselves. I feel that she will make a lasting impact on her students.
The Freedom Writers Diary.
I am about half way through the book so far and I have to admit it wasn't exactly what I expected. The change in the students diaries and Gruwells own entries is astounding. To see how most of the students believed that she would not make it through the first few months, to seeing how much they wanted to be in her class surprised me. She used a lot of techniques to get the students wanting to read and being able to relate it to their own lives. There was a ine about a quarter of the way through the book that really got to me. At one point she makes mention of how many of the students thought they had a better chance of being shot then graduating high school. One thing that bothered was how unsupportive most of the other teachers and admin were towards her different teaching methods. Even when she was student teaching and went above and beyond any other student teacher, she was looked down upon and made fun of.
I am enjoying this book. I am half thought it. I feel that she really made a different in her students life. She said to some of her kids, death seems more real then a diploma. To her students they feel like her class is their family and they don't want to let her down. One student talks about how she is a closet drinker and how she feel like a hypocrite. The students are reading and enjoying what they are learning, when they read about the people in their books they can feel their pain. Many of the students see conntections between the books and their lives. Her students love and enjoy be in her class and they have started to love books. The students can not imageaga not being in her class. The teacher does a great job with her students and really makes a difference in their lives, as teachers we should all want to make a difference.
I am really enjoying reading this book. Ms. Gruwell is given the "bad" kids and slowly but surely she turns them around and makes believers out of them. It is sad how many problems the kids face, like with drugs and alcohol and the deaths of their friends due to gang violence. This is something Ms. Gruwell has never had to experience and yet she does a great job of making her students feel like she cares. She has them read books that directly relate to their lives, which makes them more interested in the subjects they are learning.
This is why I think you can't create your entire curriculum before you step into the classroom. You don't know what students you are going to get, and once you meet them you may find that the lessons you planned will never work with certain kids. Ms. Gruwell got to know her students first, and although she struggled at times, she found a way to get through to them. She constantly gives her students hope, like when they wrote letters to Zlata. She worked her tail off to make sure Zlata would come visit, all because she didn't want to let her students down. In my opinion, Mrs. Gruwell is the kind of teacher we should all strive to be. I can only hope that I will be as successful as she is one day in my career.
I agree with you Vanessa about creating your curriculum before you're in your room. I think it is very important to have a basis of what your going to do and know what you're going to teach, but some lessons or activities I feel depend on the group of kids.
This is definitely one of my favorite reads. Reading these entries make me think about the world that I love in but don't come encounter with. I honestly don't think these kids chose to be part of the violence but because they grew up with it it is normal to them. I know this may sound corny I really do feel for them. No one wants to watch their friends die. I'm lucky enough be able to live my life without fear. Reading these students' stories makes me realize I don't truly know what fear is.
I totally agree. I can't believe some of the stories these kids tell. It is so heartbreaking, but makes me realize how lucky I am to have grown up in a safe place where education was open to me and friends and family were always there when I needed them.
Ms. Gruwell hasn't experienced the tragedies her students have, but still she relates to them so well and is seem as a "mom" to them. I can't even imagine how stressful that must have been for her--but rewarding as well.
Yes I dont know if I could ever be good at relating to kids. Obviously I will try my best, but somehow even though Erin never lived a day in their shoes she was able to make the best out of the situations given to her. In the beginning it is sad that the students did not want to give her a chance, but in the end she ended up being her favorite teacher. I am curious to see how I deal with "difficult" students that reject my teachings. I plan on doing everything possible to have a connection with my students similar to Erin.
As I stated in class, it has been wonderful reading your comments and seeing that you are enjoying the reading. Against the odds, Erin was successful with this group of students, many of which have gone on to great things. What made her successful? What will make you successful when faced with many of the potential roadblocks that you will be faced with?
I believe that what made her successful was that she never gave up on her students. She didn't automatically judge her students and had a mindset that, she just has to do what she has to do and by the time she is halfway through the year, these students will drop out. She didn't want that, she made it personal with her students. She was able to expose students to the world outside of their neighborhoods in many different ways. I try to envision what will make me a successful teacher when faced with roadblocks and I keep thinking, be true to who I am. That is what Erin Gruwell did. She stood her ground and believed in her students, which is what I will do. I see it every day in the schools. Teachers give up on that one student that just doesn't want to learn. Maybe the student feels that the teacher does not care. Just like how Erin's students felt with her in the beginning.
I agree with Erika. I believe it is all on your attitude and your will as a teacher to keep going and to not give up on the kids. I see it in one of my classes I observe. This one child they deemed as "out of control, unwilling to do work, etc." I do not see the teacher or the teachers aid doing anything to try to get him to focus and want to learn in class. They just brush him off and leave him alone during lessons. They even talk about him with other teachers in the teachers lounge. Their attitude towards him is disgusting. I would talk to him and find out what is going on, if there is something that's bothering him, find out what he likes and try to incorporate that into a lesson so that he will get involved. I would not just give up and wave my hand at him, dismissing his presence in the room.
I agree with Erica too! I think it is all about your approach to a situation. She was the "naive" teacher that thinks everyone is capable of learning, which that is the way every teacher should go into a classroom. Even though most did not agree with her teachings she did the right thing and formed a relationship with her students unlike any other teacher. Teachers were just jealous that she was the teacher that was most liked.
I would like to say that my personality will help me. I'm generally easy going, patient, and adaptable. Yet, the honest answer to your question is I don't know I'll find out when I step up to the challenge. What can really prepare you for that kind of a situation, and what you think you would do may not be what actually winds up happening.
I really enjoyed this book. I could not believe what these students went through in their lives. Teachers failed to acknowledge that in their students and that is why these students were labeled the "unteachables." No wonder why they didn't care about their studies, they had no one to look up to. I saw myself in some of these students because my parents were immigrants, my parents do not speak English. My parents were illegal at a time. I didn't have someone to look up to, my parents never went to college. I was the first one in my family to accomplish that. Which many of these students did.
This book is inspirational in two aspects. One, as a human being. We all go through rough patches, and reading this book makes you realize, maybe my life isn't so terrible. It gives you hope for a brighter future. I read about so many people in this book and learned a lot of some of these people in history. Two, it makes you want to be an extraordinary teacher like Erin Gruwell. She was able to find a way to teach these students and the students enjoyed it. I loved reading about how students were on a waiting list to get into her classroom. She made such a profound impact on her school in just her first year of teaching. Not many of us will be able to do that, or maybe none of us will. But I hope to have students that will love to come to my class. I loved seeing the change in theses student's attitudes and how much she did for them.
I am loving this read! It is not what I expected. I have seen the movie but reading it just makes it that much better. A lot of the situations that the students and Erin faced, I cannot relate too. Having gone to Catholic school, I feel like school was a little bubbled world: there were rarely fights, everyone wanted to be there, we all had the same mindset. I never worries about the violence or losing a friend. Reading these different stories really opened up my eyes. I know that there are going to be challenges I will have to face in my classroom that I may not be familiar with and I hope that I can be as successful and helping my students. This book really makes you reflect on your own life and makes you think that something you think is the end of the world really isn't compared to what a lot of these students had to go though.
I don't every want my students to feel that they are "unteachable". I plan to do everything I can to make them feel worthy to be the best that they can be and that they can achieve anything they want to in life if they put the effort in and fight for it.
This is the best blog conversation that we have had. Keep it up everyone.
How long did Erin Gruwell teach for before she quit to become a writer and speaker?
I read the other Erin Gruwell book entitled Teaching Hope. The book is a collection of different diary entries from teachers around the country who joined Gruwell's freedom writers journal program. As I started the book I was absolutely enthralled by it. The first section is entitled anticipation, and it describes teachers common fears about the first day of school. It had journal entries from the pov of first year teachers and from teacher's that are just about to retire. Honestly I was relieved to discover that I'm not the only person who has anxiety over whether or not they will be an effective teacher, and fear that they will run into a class or a situation that they wont be able to handle. However the book went down hill after the first section. The next three sections were entitled challenges, engagement, and disillusionment. I began liking these sections just as much as the first but they are essentially about the same thing and it becomes repetitive and depressing. These sections are essentially about the absolute miseries of teaching or the terrible poverty and horrible situations students are faced with. Through the first sections my heart remained with it as some of the stories are truly gut wrenchingly horrible, but I became desensitized to the material. I have to comment as well that many of these situations that students find themselves in is self inflicted. I'm not cold hearted and I do feel sorry for these students, but if you're in poverty do you really need to add on drug addiction, unprotected sex, and gang violence. It made me think that people in poverty must be truly horrible to each other as there were countless tales of fathers that beat and/or raped there children WTF! The book ended on a positive note as teachers wrote diary entries about moments where they positively impacted there students lives which I liked. The book is good and it both vividly describes situations that are all to prevalent in the American school system, as well as situations you wouldn't have thought of. For instance there are several diary entries from people in poor rural towns who face a much different challenge from those people in poor urban areas. There are even a few entries from the pov of teachers in rich communities who are faced with challenges from bullying or suicide. All and all a good book but in the middle it gets depressing.
Her other book sounds awesome. It is from the teacher's perspective rather than the students and I think it would be helpful to read that point of view as well. I am definitely going to read that book over the winter break!
Freedom Writer's Foundation