My 10th grade students are from the heart of St. Louis city, representing over 20 city zip codes to go to our free public charter school supported by the local community to empower and uplift students no matter what neighborhood they come from. While outside of school many of these students face adversity that is endemic to urban poverty, our students have learned the art of resiliency and being empowered by their own stories to achieve the future they want for themselves, whether it be the first in their family to graduate from high school, earn a college diploma, or entering a career field based on their passions not just their needs.
My classroom is about exploring new conceptual worlds through World Literature, but it's also about my students exploring the inner worlds inside of themselves and the universes surrounding them that are just begging to be tapped into.
While many of my students have never left their city, they are voracious learners always filled with curiosity and wonder when exposed to realities outside of what constructs their own. Their humor and insight makes the journey of exploring new worlds in our classroom community a trip of a lifetime.
The reward of teaching at an inner-city charter school is working with the students I get to serve, the restriction comes in the form of funding and a lack of resources that other schools may take for granted. These books are core curriculum texts for World Literature, where currently our classroom only has enough for one class set which stays at school and a second class set which can be sent home with students only from one out of the four classes of World Literature I teach. My goal is to have 80 copies of both texts, which would mean each student gets to check out their own copy of the text for the entire unit.
Currently, almost all of the reading we do as an English class can only happen inside of the classroom because students can't take a copy of the novel home to do assigned reading.
The majority of our students enter high school 3-4 years behind in literacy, and it is my job to give them every support in place to not only bridge the literacy gap, but develop lifelong readers. This begins with building reading habits that are sustained outside of the classroom. If each student had their own copy of the core curriculum text, not only would they benefit by developing reading habits outside of class, but this would allow me to dedicate class time to enriching lessons based on the text instead of losing lesson time every day to read the books during class because they don't have the resources to do it anywhere else. This barrier in our English classroom is an example of the lack of equity in education, where a student's education is directly impacted based on the neighborhood they come from. It's our duty to give them equal opportunity.
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