“So you want to be a 6th grade math teacher?”
That was the name of Mr. Dyett’s impromptu lecture on his time at his new workplace. He had crashed the journalism class, but no one was complaining.
Mr. Dyett left ACA in 2016 to teach at H.B. Lee Middle School. The job hasn’t been easy. “I don’t really teach so much as i correct people’s behavior “ Mr. Dyett said. With class sizes of 36 11-12 year old kids, it isn’t surprising that it’s an uphill fight. The school is in a low-income area: one of the lowest in the state. Almost all the students qualify for free or reduced lunch according to Mr. Dyett.
“Extreme behaviors come from bad experiences at home” Mr. Dyett said, pausing to write “Insecurities” on the whiteboard. “It’s not the challenge of the math and getting that stuff worked out… it’s the behavior dynamics”
He told our class about the first day. He decided to have a fun, get-to-know-you activity for his students. Not 5 minutes later, a fight broke out.
This sort of extreme behavior wasn’t unusual, either.The environment of the school is far less warm. “It takes time to build that trust,” Mr. Dyett said. “I don’t have bonds with my kids like i do here.” Many of his students are from other countries and have only been in the US for a few years.
On top of the less-than-ideal learning environment, he’s teaching 6th graders. “It’s like herding cats,” Mr. Dyett said, earning a laugh from the class. “If anything can be a distraction, it will be.”
Some things are more than a distraction, though. He recalled a time there was a fire in the girl’s restroom. He rushed in, saw the flaming garbage bin, and quickly dumped it into the sink. All 900 students had to evacuate. “The fire department showed up… and they were talking about how cute [the students] were.” Mr. Dyett said, shaking his head.
Mr. Dyett returned to talking about insecurities- it wasn’t only affecting the students. “The politics of money are very real here,” he said. Sports had been cut, and he spoke about fellow teachers getting laid off for the next year. He was not one of them, a fact which seemed to disappoint some of the listeners.
Despite the challenges, it seems to be a rewarding job. “I’m starting to see some of the investment into the students… I’m seeing the behavior change” Mr. Dyett said. He also has more time to spend with his family and his daughter, who will be turning 3 soon. Either way, his visit to ACA was the perfect way to wrap up the year.