PROSE FOR POETRY


>>>HERE AT “METROFOCUS” WE WANT TO INTRODUCE YOU TO SOME OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE EDUCATORS IN OUR CLASSROOMS. THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE YOU’LL RECOGNIZE THE NEXT GUEST, POET TURNED TEACHER TONI JACKSON HAS BEEN THE FOCAL POINT OF MI MICROSOFT’S EDUCATION CAMPAIGN.>>MY CALLING IS TEACHING AND MY PASSION IS PERFORMING. BEING IN THE CLASSROOM, THAT’S MY STAGE. WHEN KIDS COME INTO MY CLASSROOM THEY KNOW THAT MR. JACKSON IS THE RAPPING TEACHER. WELCOME TO FOURTH GRADE. TODAY WILL BE A SHORT DAY. RAP IS A GREAT WAY TO ENGAGE STUDENTS. IT’S LITERACY AND VOCABULARY WORDS.>>HE TEACHES FOURTH GRADE AND I’M DELIGHTED TO WELCOME TONY TO THE PROGRAM. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME OUT TO DO THIS. AS WE SAW IN THE CAMPAIGN, TALK TO ME ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF INTRODUCING RAP, HIP HOP AND POETRY INTO YOUR CLASSROOM AND THE IMPACT YOU’RE SEEING ON YOUR KIDS.>>SURE. THANKS FOR HAVING ME FIRST OF ALL. I DIDN’T GO TO SCHOOL TO TEACH INITIALLY. WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE I WAS HEAVILY INTO POETRY, I DID RAP AND POETRY AND WE USED TO TOUR WITH SOME FRIENDS. WE WOULD GO TO SCHOOLS AND THEATERS. AND I NOTICED THAT IT WAS SOMETHING THEY WAS VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT. AND WHENEVER WE WOULD COME INTO THE SCHOOLS AND BE ABLE TO INTERACT WITH THE KIDS AND USE THOSE TECHNIQUES WITH THE STUDENTS, THAT WAS THE PART THAT REALLY EXCITED ME THE MOST. AND BEING ABLE TO USE THINGS LIKE RHYME AND METER, THINGS THAT WERE DIRECTLY RELATED TO LITERACY AND LANGUAGE ARTS AND ALSO BEING ABLE TO USE THAT TO BRING OTHER THINGS TO LIFE LIKE MANAGEMENT AND SOCIAL STUDIES AND SCIENCE, IT WAS A PERFECT FIT. THE KIDS WERE ENGAGED AND EXCITED ABOUT IT AS WELL.>>WE’RE TALKING ABOUT 10-YEAR-OLDS HERE. NOT NECESSARILY EASY GETTING UP IN FRONT OF A CLASSROOM OF FELLOW STUDENTS RAPPING AND RECITING POETRY. WHAT’S THE SECRET TO INSTORE THE CONFIDENCE IN THEM TO MAKE SURE THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING THAT IN.>>I THINK THE SECRET IS BEING WILLING TO BE SILLY AND EMBARRASS YOURSELF. I’M NOT EMBARRASSED WHEN I COME INTO THE CLASSROOM. AT THIS POINT I’M SO COMFORTABLE THAT I LET MY STUDENTS SEE PIECES OF ME. WHEN THEY SEE ME BE FUNNY AND SILLY, IT OPENS IT UP AND SHOWS THEM THAT THE CLASSROOM IS A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR THEM TO DO SO AS WELL.>>CONSIDER RAP AND HIP HOP AND POETRY, I CAN IMAGINE WHEN A KID GETS UP THERE TO DO THAT, IT’S A KA AUTHORITYIC RELEASE, BRINGS ABOUT CREATIVITY IN THE CHILD. WOULDN’T BE CONSIDERED TRADITIONAL METHODS OF AS ASSE ASSESSMENT. DO YOU SEE THIS HAVING A DIRECT IMPACT ON THE WAY YOUR KIDS ARE PERFORMING COME TEST TIME?>>I’M ABLE TO SEE WHEN THE STUDENTS ARE ENGAGED IS WHEN THEY’RE LEARNING THE MOST. AND ONE OF THE BEST THING ABOUT IT IS THAT IT’S ABLE TO BE — THEY’RE ABLE TO HAVE FUN, ABLE TO ENJOY AND THEY WANT TO LEARN MORE. THEY WANT TO SEEK MORE. SO WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE WRAPPING THEMSELVES, WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE TRYING TO, YOU KNOW, GET BETTER BARS AND BETTER LINES AND BETTER RHYMES ALL OF THE TIME, THEY CAN SEE IN CLASS THIS IS A PLACE I WANT TO BE. THIS IS A PLACE I WANT TO COME BACK TO.>>IT SEEMS AS THOUGH YOU’VE COME UP WITH A CONCEPT TO ASSESS YOUR CHILDREN AND STUDENTS IN A DIFFERENT WAY. YOU’VE BEEN A VOCAL CRITIC OF THE FRA ADDITIONAL METHOD. WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THEY’RE FAILING, THE 10-YEAR-OLDS YOU TEACH?>>I THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH MEDIOCRITY AND ALL TEACHERS COMING IN, WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO BE STUDENTS AS WELL. SO AS A TEACHER I AM CONSTANTLY TRYING TO LEARN, CONSTANTLY TRYING TO IMPROVE MY OWN PRACTICE. WHEN WE’RE AT THE POINT WHERE WE SAY WHATEVER I’M DOING IS JUST GOOD ENOUGH, THEN OUR STUDENTS ARE LOSING OUT.>>AND THE OTHER THING THAT’S QUITE COMMON IN YOUR CLASSROOM IS TECHNOLOGY. YOU TOLD ME BEFORE WE SAT DOWN AND SPOKE TODAY THAT YOU’VE BEEN ASKED IN L.A. TO PUT THIS COMMERCIAL TOGETHER AND YOU’VE GOT YOUR STUDENTS SEEING YOU ON TF AT THE AGE OF 10 YEARS OLD AND E-MAILING YOU. THAT BAFFLES MY MIND. MY QUESTION BEING THE INTRODUCTION OF TECHNOLOGY, I DON’T THINK ANYONE WILL DOUBT HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS FOR THIS GENERATION. BRINGING THOSE TABLETS AND COMPUTERS INTO THE CLASSROOM, BEING DEPENDENT ON THEM, DO YOU THINK WE’RE AT RISK OF GROWING A GENERATION OF STUDENTS SO DEPENDENT ON TECHNOLOGY THAT THEY ALMOST LOSE OUT WHEN IT COMES TO SOCIAL INTERACTIONS?>>THE RISK IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE. IT FALLS ON US AND IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SEURE WE DON’T JUST RELY ON THE FACT THAT TECHNOLOGY IS PRESENT. IT HAS TO BE HOW WE’RE USING IT, WHAT WE’RE USING IT FOR AND THE MIND-SET THAT GOES ALONG WITH WHAT THE TECHNOLOGY IS ABLE TO DO. I WANT MY STUDENTS TO BE GLOBALLY CONNECTED AND TO KNOW THAT WE’RE IN A GLOBAL SOCIETY SO THAT IT’S MORE THAN JUST BEING ABLE TO TYPE A PAPER VERSUS USING A PENCIL BUT IT’S REALLY THE THOUGHT THAT IS BEHIND IT AND WHAT THIS TECHNOLOGY MEANS. WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO DO. WHAT DOES THIS OPEN THE DOORS FOR CURRENTLY AND IN THE FUTURE.>>YOU MENTIONED GLOBAL AWARENESS. IT’S INTERESTING THAT YOU SAID THAT. WE’VE BEEN THROUGH A DIFFICULT SUMMER IN MANY ASPECTS. TAKE FOR EXAMPLE, THE EVENTS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, YOUR CHILDREN, 10 YEARS OLD, THAT’S THE STAGE OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT, THEY’RE DEVELOPING CURIOSITY AND AWARENESS OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM. SOMETHING THAT WE SAW IN CHARLOTTESVILLE. IS THAT A TOPIC DISCUSSION?>>YES, ABSOLUTELY IT IS SOMETHING THAT I BRING INTO THE CLASSROOM WITH ME. AND IN TALKING WITH THE OTHER TEACHERS, ONE OF THE IDEAS THAT I’VE BEEN TRYING TO GET ACROSS IS DON’T GO BACK TO SCHOOL AS IF THESE EVENTS HAVE NOT HAPPENED. PERSONALLY, I TEACH FOURTH GRADE AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES TO COVER IN HISTORY IS THE PERIOD OF THE CIVIL WAR. AND SO WHEN WE GET INTO THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THAT, WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS COUNTRY AT THAT TIME, WHAT HAPPENED AS A RESULT OF IT, WE GO INTO REP CONSTRUCTION AND BEYOND, I WANT MY STUDENTS TO HAVE THAT CONNECTION TO WHY THIS IS SOMETHING THAT THEY’RE SEEING HAPPEN TODAY. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WAS HAPPENING YEARS AND YEARS AGO AND YOU CAN STILL SEE SHADES OF THOSE HORRIBLE SCARY THINGS THAT WE WERE HOPING THAT WE COULD MOVE BEYOND SURFACING TODAY. SO I THINK IT’S ESSENTIAL THAT WE MAKE SURE THAT WE’RE GIVING THEM REALITY. WE CAN’T TREAT IT AS IF THESE THINGS ARE NOT HAPPENING. WE WANT THEM TO KNOW THERE’S A REASON AND WHEN WE GIVE THEM THE CONTEXT, WE’RE DOING THEM A FAVOR.>>TONY, WE WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR STUDENTS AS THEY EMBARK. TONY JACKSON, A FOURTH GRADE TEACHER IN HACKENSACK, NEW JERSEY. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.>>THANK YOU SO MUCH. IT WAS A PLEASURE.

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