"Undercover Teacher" - George N. Allen - New York World Telegram & Sun
'Don't Let 'Em See You're Afraid,' Writer Told by School Official
From Editor's Note: "Staff writer George N. Allen has just emerged from two months as a teacher in one of the city's "difficult" schools - John Marshall Junior High in Brooklyn. The school's principal committed suicide early this year after acts of violence in the school building and on the school grounds. Mr. Allen was assigned to obtain a teacher's job at the school, JHS 120, to learn first-hand the experiences of a teacher there, the attitudes and aptitudes of the students, the day-by-day problems of classroom instruction. School authorities, fellow teachers and students knew nothing of his true identity. From what Mr. Allen experienced himself and from what he learned from other teachers and supervisors there, he has written a series of articles the first of which appears today.
Reporter Passes First Test: Challenge by Class Tough
To the casual visitor, there is little about John Marshall Junior High School in Brooklyn to attract attention.From the outside, the five-story, red-brick building, erected in Brooklyn in 1924, looks like many of the 900 other schools in the five boroughs in New York City. The walls are unscarred, there are no broken windows, the playground is well kept.
College Courses Not Much Help in Difficult Classes
The training in education which I was required to take for my New York City teaching license was of little practical value to me in classroom 404 of John Marshall Junior High School.I taught two ninth grade adjustment classes - slow learners - and two eighth grade average classes. In all of them, I felt handicapped because I didn't know how to teach or control them.
Getting School Job is Easy as ABC, Reporter Learns
Getting a job as a teacher in our city's school system is a relatively simple procedure, so hard pressed are school officials for teachers.I simply walked in off the street and my credentials were readily accepted by officials of the administrative headquarters of the Board of Education at 110 Livingston St., Bklyn.
'You'll Be Sorry' Plunges Newcomer Into Tough Job
It was Thursday, Sept. 4, when I first reported as a teacher - of what I didn't yet know - at John Marshall Junior High School in Brooklyn. Experienced teachers were not required to report until Sept. 5 and classes did not start until Sept. 8. But I was there because of a well-publicized announcement by school authorities that orientation meeting for new teachers would be held in all schools Sept. 4th.
'Hey, Teach' is Signal for Classroom Bedlam
A group was pushing and shoving around my desk, fighting for extra sheets of paper. A jacket flew across the room. A pencil bounced off a window. Bedlam.
9th Grader's Plea: 'Teach Me to Read'
From [Mary's] report card I knew that she and three sisters were living with an aunt who had four or five children of her own. A previous teacher had noted "child overworked at home" on her cumulative record card.
Slow Pupils Cheated by Our Schools
I got the surprise of my teaching life one morning in early October.I walked into the classroom of another teacher at JHS 210 to see how he was teaching hygiene to a group of "adjustment" pupils - neither of the groups I taught. By this time, I was aware of the learning limitation of my own "adjustment" (slow-learning) students. And I was curious to see how other teachers were handling the other ones.
Lessons Get Lost in Paper Work
At the beginning of the school term I had to copy and recopy the registers of my various classes so many times that I once got writer's cramp. It seemed to me that in this age of modern office machinery, the school system's methods of handling its clerical work is far out of date - and wasteful.
False Theory Makes Instructor Live a Lie
Several teachers cited an incident they had seen the day before in the school's general office. They had seen a woman daily substitute, her eyes filled with tears, asking an assistant principal why the children in her classes that day had tried so hard to resist learning anything.
Pupils Wage War of Nerves
Josephine is a tall, well-built girl. She spent most of her time in class primping or looking at a magazine. Periodically she bust into a rage over some imagined insult. Her IQ, as listed on her record card, is 58.
Salary Leaves Little Room For Any Professional Pride
Fortunately for me, I didn't have to live on my teacher's salary during the two months I taught at John Marshall Junior High in Brooklyn.My take home par was approximately $60 a week. As was reported at the start of this series, I spent not one penny of my salary. It's safely banked in a savings account and will be turned over to a teacher's fund or spent in some manner in the interests of the city school children.
Pupils Would Profit By Isolating 'Toughs'
I came away from my two months as a substitute teacher in Brooklyn's John marshall Junior High School with some strong conclusions. They are based on what I saw and heard and experienced as a duly licensed teacher of two classes of adjustment students and two classes of average students. My experiences paralleled those of many other new teachers who entered the school system this term.