I resigned from my job two weeks ago based upon my feeling that the Spirit was leading me away from the high need public school classroom in Atlanta. The past two weeks have been tumultuous and in that earth shattering kind of way that God brings to those who listen to Him I have been in deep reflection. The nature of life is that it is always flowing. Nothing remains still, nothing worth being is always rigid. Rather, flexibility and Flow are the true essence of living that inspired life. Listen to your heart my friend Steph Raven says to me almost daily on Facebook. I am on a path of service, seeking the healing water of the spirit in Princeton Seminary in 2012 I studied Christianity seriously and found that in that walk that I belong in education. I served in AmeriCorps last year, cutting my teeth on high school education for the first time. I spent a couple of hours each day in a public school after school program and helped kids with homework. It was a wonderful experience that led me to enter into yet another formal education program, this time for public education at Georgia State University to teach public school. After leaving AmeriCorps in 2014, I was very adamant about how public education over private education is what I belonged in. I tried teaching public school this fall as a provisional teacher and found myself in a position where I was able to make some impact, but the minimal support on the part of Georgia State University and the school that I was teaching at proved extremely difficult for me. I found myself walking into a classroom every day last fall with no idea how to conduct proper classroom management procedures. As Ellie Herman states eloquently in her widely cited blog that I ran into via the Washington Post on Facebook, teachers in public schools are often placed in situations that are a mental health nightmare. She shares about a student who created a disturbance in her classroom and how she lost her temper and then immediately dove into a feeling of self loathing about her self worth.
Teachers are on the frontline of pretty much every single social crisis that currently exists in America today, yet there are no mental health protocols in place for teachers. In medicine, law, and ministry workers and workplaces have in place elaborate social care structures for professionals for mental health care. In public school teaching, it is far from this. I was hired instantly with no warning of what kind of classroom I was going to be placed in and was given no support in what I faced in that room every day. Social Darwinism. Now, as I have shared on this blog previously I care about mental health care because I need it sometimes. Most of us in modern America do at times. I believe that the teaching profession needs a compassionate way to support teachers’ mental health via giving teachers a support structure of other teachers to learn the craft from each other. Many countries with very successful public education systems spend large amounts of time in self and peer analysis of teaching styles.
The technology for perfecting teaching and ensuring the highest standards of mental health care for students and teachers alike exists. It is called video capture technology. If cops are going to have body cameras, so should teachers’ classrooms. Transparency and documentation of behavior in the classroom via video would create a safe space and would protect teachers from serious legal and medical consequences if things go wrong in the classroom. When I got back from winter break in the middle of January, a fight broke out in my classroom between two students (that had previously been in another physical altercation) and I gave up trying to “teach” that class. I was not a teacher in that school setting, I was a poorly protected prison guard. What led to the buildup of that fight? What record is there of the fight and what is the evidence for deciphering what happened? I think video cameras should be in every classroom. I want video of that fight taken on school cameras. My students filmed me with their smartphones and put the videos on YouTube so why cannot the school collect private video and use it for analysis of how to optimize performance? Enter Michael Darden’s A Deeper View. I am working on beginning to write out my story of the past fall semester in how I see how the products that I now sell with him to schools as an independent contractor A Deeper View and Dartfish video technology can help promote the highest level of mental health in teachers in high need urban schools. This will take a while because I am going to go into to explicit detail of how video could have promoted the learning and health of the entire classroom in a way that grows the health of everyone. I do not want to tell my story publicly in a negative way. I want my experience be one for good and positive change in high need urban schools.
I think video technology can be used in teacher quality assessment and training. I was observed exactly 10 minutes in 4.5 months of working as a provisional teacher last fall. That is not right. How am I supposed to learn if I do not get some support? Continuous video monitoring of classrooms would document behavior and would create a dream situation for order and respect establishment between the school, families, and students. As it stands, the students are armed with smartphones and YouTube and the schools are powerless and inept in the face of the public scrutiny. School fight videos are on YouTube from my old school as the top hits via student smartphones. You are not going to get rid of the smartphone so create a healthy situation where video works for the school not against it. I am going for a walk to think and write about how to use technology to promote mental health in schools via video technology. One thing that I will be meditating on is telling my story in a way that gets A Deeper View into every high need classroom in Atlanta. That means getting cameras in to the classroom. My story will open some doors if told well. I will be working with Ellie and Michael this spring to tell the story so as to get school monitored cameras into the classroom. Bloggers can get things done. I have a mental health diagnosis. If I am going to work in a high need public school classroom, I need video cameras monitored by the school to help me manage my classroom. I want to see a systematic protocol for classroom management that uses video capture technology.
InnerLight Enlightenment by Dr. William Kaya Erbil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.