February 13 – the brown boys

204/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Yesterday, I wrote about the white boys – most of them in my senior Marketing class and today it’s about the brown boys, most of them in my junior Marketing class. As I’ve made mention on social media, the school I am presently at has the most ethnically diverse population of all the schools in the district I work in. Blacks, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Brazilians, Chinese, Whites, Indians – the list goes on and I absolutely love the diversity in my classes. Being Indo-Canadian and growing up and presently living in a predominantly white/Caucasian area, I’m always a little taken aback when I find myself with a lot of other Indians as I know deep down it’s because I don’t think I will/do measure up to my own ethnic background. This new semester, I find myself in a class of 30 students of which 17 are of Indian nationality (7 girls 10 boys) and 7 of those boys and 4 girls are of the same ethnic/cultural heritage as myself (Punjabi Sikh – although I don’t really practice the faith). I was overwhelmed and the boys have already commented on the fact that I’m not very Indian – at first, I took this as slight disrespect but I couldn’t really argue the fact but as the days have progressed, I can see that it wasn’t meant that way and they are joking with me as I walk by in the halls and asking me about career-related and life advice – I am being accepted. This is so very strange to me to be somewhat of a role-model to these young men that I have very little in common with except for my skin colour. One of them remarked that I am not like the other Indian male teachers at the school as this is my only and main job – LOL, because like the stereotype, a few of those other teachers build homes/develop properties on the side (or is it teaching on the side 😉 ). I am so very excited to have these boys in the class as I know they will learn a lot about the subject area but I also hope I can give them a different take on what it is to be an Indo-Canadian male and I also hope to learn from them to understand my own Indo-Canadian teenage boy. Cheers to a very different classroom make-up that will allow for all sorts of learning to take place.

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February 12 – the white boys

203/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Do not take the title of this post offensively – if you are an educator in the lower mainland, it will make sense but even more than that, it is a true gratitude post. So here I am starting second semester of teaching at a school that is very, very multicultural in a city that is very, very multicultural. My last teaching class of the day is very male-centric – maybe 5 girls to about 15 boys and of those boys, the majority are white Caucasians. Now, if you are a teacher in the city and hood that I live in, that’s a rarity and also a bit of a nightmare as the ethnic boys and girls are usually the star pupils who just do as they are told and get the work to a standard above and beyond what one could imagine.   The white boys – and if you are easily offended over ethnic stereotypes just stop reading – do what they have to do to get the bare minimum credit. Which classes do these young gentlemen take – the electives of course and which ones do they tend to select – the ones that they will get an easy pass. Here lies my dilemma – I am an elective but I don’t give easy passes yet I get these boys in my classes. But, I absolutely love them! They get me to think outside the box, redesign lessons and challenge my thinking. I can not be complacent in a class dominated by these young males. I have to think about ways to motivate them which keeps me on my toes. Yes, I could easily just give up on them and focus on the students who want to be in my class or I could try my hardest to get them “moved” out of my class but that is not the teacher I am. These guys actually drive me to change up the way I teach – get rid of my complacency. In fact, these boys give me insight on my own son – yes, before you get all uppity – my son is a brown boy who is actually a white boy…we live in affluent Steveston and he was the only brown boy in his elementary school from Kindergarten until grade 6 so for all intents and purposes, I got a white son – so back to what I was saying, I have a greater understanding of the way he is and works based on the boys in my class. I mean, several times have I found myself chuckling to what my son says that is the same as my students or vice versa. Although, I may be the first to “complain” about my white boys, I actually wish no different as I love having them in my class and getting me to rethink the way I teach and giving me the reality of what real teaching is. Thank you white boys (meaning real students who understand school is not the be all and end all) for making me that much better of a teacher but even greater than that, making my classes that much more engaging, dynamic and interesting!