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Teaching's not only a career, it is a lifestyle choice. By becoming a teacher you also become a social worker, a carer and a life coach. This occurs whatever school, In whatever area you work as a teacher, however the job can become much harder in the inner city.
Generally it is socially accepted that inner city areas tend to be areas of deprivation. This is not always the case.
In this essay I am going to discuss the challenges facing teachers and learners, the barriers to learning there are within school and outside school and why some children still fail to achieve their potential. Also how a successful teacher might be able to assist them to achieve.
There is and always has been challenges facing teachers and this doesn't only occur in inner city schools. Classroom management is one feature of teaching that when observing a "good" teacher you give very little thought to but when observing a "poor" teacher you notice a lack of immediately. Classroom management can be the difference between an entire cohort understanding and achieving and them not. This doesn't always happen necessarily because of a lack of quality by the teacher but could be due to a lack of understanding.
"Given the increasing diversity of our classrooms, a lack of multicultural competence can exacerbate the difficulties that novice teachers have with classroom management. Definitions and expectations of appropriate behaviour are culturally influenced, and conflicts are likely to occur when teachers and students come from different cultural backgrounds." (Weinstein et al.)
It is assumed by many outside the education system that if the teacher can stand at the front of the room and talk then the children will listen and learn and if that child isn't learning then it is because s/he's thick. In actuality learners (specifically in inner city schools) face many challenges, which stop these children from reaching any kind of potential.
A lot of children in the "inner city" come from entire families of disaffected learners and entire generations before them who, due to failings by schools previously, have a severe lack of education and as such the whole family ethos regarding education is that it's a waste of time. This is generally due to the cycle of deprivation which has been blamed on the shift of industry.
"Inner city areas were once thriving communities with a mixture of land use and rich living alongside poor. There were shops and houses, services, community spirit and little crime. However there were high levels of pollution- land, air and water." http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Revision:Urban_Deprivation_in_MEDCs#Cycle_of_deprivation
As this is the belief at home there will be a severe lack of encouragement to do anything vaguely educational and to a lesser degree there will be lack of financial support for the children as the parents are less likely t purchase writing implements, paper, colouring implements etc. And as such the children will have very few things that will assist with basic learning. One young reporter from a headliner project in west London said
Access to computers and/or the internet will obviously be limited if there is financial difficulties. This is something the government have been trying to combat with "computers for pupils." This is a "...£90 million, two year DCSF (Department for Children Schools and Families) program aimed at helping some of the most disadvantaged children" initially for secondary aged children but now for some KS2 children too. "Giving children access to computers at home has been shown to help their education" http://localauthorities.becta.org.uk/index.php?section=fd&catcode=la_fu_03
All children have barriers to learning within school but most manage to overcome them as they tend to be the biggest issue in a child's life. Within the inner city school children tend to have much more happening in their life so struggle to overcome these barriers as easily. An obvious barrier for some children who come from very dis-organised families is just the structure and boundaries in place within a school environment. Home life is often without barriers on behaviour and movement so the children then struggle when the strict boundaries on both are implemented in a school. The child will feel trapped and un-happy, especially just after six weeks of doing pretty much what they want, when they want. These children could struggle with the routines and structures for set things because they don't have a routine outside of school. Routines refer to"...specific behaviours and activities that are taught in order to provide smooth, uninterrupted class operation." Schools are renowned for their lack of flexibility when it comes to certain subjects such as the literacy and numeracy hours and routines which again some children find difficulties with. A school can't be expected to adjust things to suit the individual all the time.
Another barrier children may have to deal with staff shortages when staff go off sick or on courses and the school has to rely on supply members of staff from outside agencies. Children need consistency. Consistency is really difficult to maintain within any work place but is something that truly is the key to a successful school and the only way you can maintain it is by a shared staff ethos throughout. "Successful teachers have the attitude that they are in control, that they can succeed and that they can deal with any problem that besets them - calmly and swiftly." This can be difficult for some children as it often takes time for children to adjust to the different adult and takes time for them to trust different adults, especially ones they're not familiar with which can cause children to behave differently and cause issues for the supply member of staff. Also, if the child has a support worker and they have time off, financially the school can't always replace them for the time they're off (due to insurance companies not paying out till they've been off 3 days already etc.) This can alter a child's whole day/week at school because the support worker may have coping strategies in place for that pupil that would now be over looked.
As previously mentioned barriers to learning happen both within and outside of the school environment. The life of a child from an inner city location will often have barriers at home, or within social groups . It is extremely difficult for a child to concentrate on learning at school when they may be worried about something happening in their home life. There could be many things a child could be thinking about. They could have abusive parents who physically or sexually abuse them and/or their siblings. Their parents could be neglectful and leave the children to look after themselves which means the child could be worrying about where s/he's going to get food from for his/herself and/or younger brothers/sisters. If food is an issue the child is worried about due to neglect then they might not have eaten or drank enough to fully sustain themselves throughout the day. Abraham Maslow talks about a hierarchy of needs. He says that without one or more of the features of his design you will not be able to function properly as a human being. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is shaped like a pyramid (see appendix 1) with the most important needs at the bottom forming the base for all human happiness's. His foundation block is physiological needs which include food, water and warmth which every person (let alone a child) needs to function properly. Without these things a child will not function and will instead be thinking primarily about these instead of trying to listen to the teacher and learn.
Norwood (1999) proposed that "...Maslow's hierarchy can be used to describe the kinds of information individual's seek at different levels of development. For example, individuals at the lowest level seek coping information in order to meet their basic needs...they seek to be assisted in seeing how they can be safe and secure..." http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/regsys/maslow.html
Within inner city areas there is a high level of gang culture. Due to a higher level of neglect the gangs find it easy to lure young boys and girls into their folds. If a child has had little or no love and affection from a parent or guardian and been left to fend for themselves when it comes to food etc. then an older person offers them some sort of affection or protection from harm or even does as little as offers them some food then they will have some kind of attraction to that person. That person will be filling the void left by their own parents.
"I think what gangs offers you in comparison to a family are security and protection. Being in a gang means you always have someone watching your back, and people that feel they don't have that protection and support at home will look elsewhere for it." www.headliners.org/storylibrary/stories/2008/gangs_whats_the_attraction.htm?gclid=CJLXlZqN7qMCFcEB4wodcjoO2g
A link of responsibility and respect is made and that child feels that they owe the gang member something. Soon the gang will have a hold over the child and the views of the gang will be forced onto the child. These views by nature tend to be anti-establishmentarianism views which would hold schools and as such teachers in very low esteem. I feel that a gang's hold over a child is normally a very strong one and very difficult to break and as such one that would continue into adulthood when the cycle starts all over again.
The conservative party produced a "Charter for inner city schools" and in it, it highlights that "nearly a third of failing schools are in the most deprived 20% of communities" and "Schools with the highest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals are on average 2.7 times more likely to be judged as underperforming." Because they don't reach the same levels in SAT's as other schools in other areas. This is simply unfair as these schools tend to have lower entry level children.
"Those sympathetic to the plight of failing schools too often focus on explaining failure, not curing it.
The DfES is now introducing 'Contextual Value Added' (CVA) tables, which weight schools' and pupils'
scores by taking into account levels of deprivation. Whilst it is right to recognise that teaching pupils
in deprived areas is tougher, there is a risk of embedding low expectations." http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/files/a_charter_for_inner_city_schools.pdf
I think, to be a successful teacher in the inner city and to allow pupils from the inner city to achieve their full potential then you need to be extremely flexible with who you are and how you respond to certain things and also individuals. You must have an abundance of enthusiasm backed up by a never ending supply of energy to be a successful teacher. You need to be respected by colleagues as well as children (which you must earn, not just expect) and you need to respect those around you. You must encourage the children when they're doing the right thing more so than chastising them for mistakes they've made. You must be a parent, a sibling, a friend to them whilst maintaining a professional distance. You must, if you want to succeed be everything you ever thought you could be and more. You must teach.
A lot of children come into schools in the inner city with extremely low self esteem which leaves the child feeling under-valued and unable to voice opinions and they believe everything they say or do is "rubbish" and not worth reading. Every Child Matters and as a teacher it is part of your job to make sure they feel valued, respected and a part of the group if only for the time they are at school. Children in the inner city do, as previously mentioned have difficult situations arising at home and another part of becoming a successful teacher is being able to understand them and if you can do no more be a good listener.
"The government's aim is for every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, to have the support they need to:
Enjoy and achieve
Make a positive contribution
Achieve economic well being" (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/about/aims/aims/)
If you can raise self-esteem of children to a level where they are confident to express their views and not afraid to get something wrong then you have achieved success. If you can assist this child in his/hers continuing development throughout the school year or even further through that child's whole school career then you will have succeeded. If you can change the attitude of a once disaffected learner then you have succeeded.
How you do all these things is something that can't be written down in an essay. It is something you do, not through specific plan or design but just by being there for and with that child, by being the teacher that child needs at that time in the child's life.