Avoiding the Writing (TEACHER) Struggle Bus

The Start of Building a Teacher Toolbox

Teacher Troubles

I can't take credit for this phrase. I have used it often throughout the course of my teaching career. It has become an iconic phrase for a mood that either I am in, the student's current state of mind or behavior, or both. The struggle bus is a metaphoric phenomenon that demonstrates a person's ability to cope with life and the ability to be an educator at the current moment. This may take the form of an academic lens, social behavioral lens, or even your spiritual or emotional lens of current being. The struggle bus is not a way of life, but a means of transportation for action and feeling in a current moment.

I have observed students on the struggle bus many times throughout teaching in an urban district in Southwest Michigan. When I got the call offering me a job at the Alternative Middle School as an English teacher, I jumped at the chance. I immediately mouthed to my boss "I quit" because i was at my waitressing job that was paying my way through education college. I reported the next day at 8am. The above pictures are from my first classroom, my first year of teaching.

I was ready in many ways for this appointment, but I was also unprepared for the students that were to enter my classroom that was set up in an impoverished neighborhood. I don't think I knew the challenges that I would face in terms of literacy and poverty-and how these two are intertwined together.

I tried setting up my classroom the best I knew how-I had no idea that there was a science to how I setup my classroom and that this might help with managing behavior or helping with teaching reading or writing.

Let me just say this: This is not a warning to new teachers or a walk down memory lane of no reason. This is a testimony to being underwhelmed with the system and overwhelmed at the joyous potential that these students had in the world. Explore how the mindset of students towards writing is often so negative and almost full of hate.

I would watch for the next few years many students riding the struggle bus and myself getting on and off the bus from time to time. The common denominator was this: I was cognizant of when I was riding so it was humorous. Kids don't know when they are riding the bus so they struggle with ever getting off. The next few posts will be strong reminders to recognize a poor writing or reading mindset and how to turn it around. They will help you realize when you are riding, help students realize they are riding, and how to eventually get rid of this form of transportation all together.

The above pictures show my learning space at Maple Street.

Writing Mindset Reflection: What are the connections between writing mindset and issues with poverty? What resources would you give new teacher to the field?