Here is a preview of my short story which will be published sometime this year in an anthology of the diversity of today's classrooms.
“Lessons from an Election”
I knew the class would be special, but I would not know exactly how special it would be until November of that year. I walked into that class with high expectations: high expectations for student learning and high expectations for fun; fun in their learning as well as in my teaching. I had agreed to teach the class, a 4th/5th grade split of all gifted students and had prepared for it over the summer. In the era of No Child Left Behind, these students were indeed being left behind. They were being left behind in meeting their special needs; their need to excel, their need to be challenged, and their need to challenge. So, I had planned my lessons around differentiating for the specific and distinct needs to push these students further in their academics.
After 26 years of teaching in the same school, about 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood, I needed something different. I was burning out. In all those years of teaching I had had gifted students in my classes before, but never more than ten, now I had twenty-six. Twenty-six for the whole day, twenty-six split between two curricula! The idea was daunting, but stimulating. I had a new direction for my teaching. Four years prior I had taken on the role of Gifted and Talented Education Coordinator in addition to my duties as a classroom teacher, and I had worked with many of the students in an after school enrichment program the year before when they were 3rd and 4th grade students. So I knew many of them before the school year officially began.
The class was composed of eight 4th graders and eighteen 5th graders; ten girls and sixteen boys; one African-American female, one Filipino male and twenty-four Hispanic students. I was the only Anglo in the room. The class was quite homogeneous as an entity in itself, yet quite diverse from the classes across the hall, from across the school, from across the country.