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Undercover High

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Undercover High follows seven young adults, ranging in age from 21 to 26, who embed themselves for a semester in Topeka, Kansas' Highland Park High School. 

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I am watching this now. Ten minutes in and I am already cringing at the thought of ever going back to high school. 

I totally understood how that girl felt who was a college grad and couldn't handle the algebra class. That is me. 

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I had no idea the phone use was so blatant during class. And how powerless the teachers are to have the students' mostly undivided attention -- it can't be about the quality of the teacher when it's so widespread that students are using their phones in multiple classes. I had a high schooler 4 years ago with issues using phone during glass to contact the girlfriend.... his grades dropped... I used parental control to restrict phone use during the school day (except for lunch). Pissed them off, but the grades got back on track. I was privileged to have the time and knowledge of how to reign in Mr Horny Teen. four years is a long time ago in technology and economically, though :(

The show? I'm in.

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I feel like phones being available in classes changed dramatically as the school shootings increased.  I personally wanted my daughters to be able to contact me if there was a shooting.  There was a bomb scared during my daughter's senior year of school and I was grateful that she was able to stay in touch with me.  Turned out to be nothing, but it was several hours.  But, overall, their school didn't allow phone usage during class and they both had their phones taken away a few times so they quickly learned to just leave it in their backpacks during class. 

The way kids talk to each other and treat each other is horrendous.  Poor Lina (sp?).  Guys making comments about raping her?!?!  That his HORRIFYING. Literally terrifying.  Kids have always been terrible to each other, but I just feel it's gotten so much worse!!

My youngest daughter was targeted with cyber bullying.  It was terrible.  The kids were just so awful.  The problem was, the girl who started it went to a different school than my daughter.  Then all of that girls' classmates jumped on board and started harassing my daughter and NONE of them knew her at all.  They were only making comments about her based on a picture and what this other girl was saying.  This was within a couple of months of one of my daughters friends committing suicide so I was beyond upset.  I went to my daughter's school, but they told me they couldn't do anything because the students involved went to another school.  That other school said they couldn't do anything because my daughter wasn't a student there.  It's ridiculous!  Luckily enough, my daughter is very strong.  She got off social media for awhile and stopped worrying about what these other kids were saying.  It all blew over eventually.  

I don't think that school is a good representative of a "typical" high school if they get that many new students each month that 7 new students won't even cause a blip on the other students radar.  Except, obviously, for poor Lina.  

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Regarding the cell phones, I'm not shocked that it's so blatant and problematic.  I'm a high school teacher and I'm very curious about what that district's official policy states regarding cell phone usage in class.  I think it was the principal (or maybe the superintendent) who said that the policy is that the students are not supposed to be on their phones unless the teacher has deemed it ok for educational purposes.  My question is, what are the consequences for violating that policy?  That was never said so I would love to know if there are any consequences.  The policy is pretty useless unless there are consequences that would curb the students being on the phones when they're not supposed to be. 

Years ago, my district's policy was that students weren't supposed to be on their phone for any reason in class and if the phone got confiscated the parents had to come pick it up from the school for the kid to get it back.  A few years ago they changed the policy to it being up to each individual teacher for whether or not students are allowed to be on them in class.  The problem was, once that went into effect, they stopped making parents come pick up the phone if it did get confiscated by a teacher who didn't allow cell phone usage.  The kids were getting the phone back the very next hour.  Last year it changed a little in that even though it's still up to each teacher, if a kid gets their phone taken, the office is supposed to log each violation, and the kids can't get it back until the end of the day.  I had a student this year who ended up getting suspended the rest of the day because she was texting, she wasn't supposed to be, and she then refused to hand it over to me.  One of my students last year got 3 days of ISD for a similar situation.  But if there are no consequences or the consequences are such that it's no big deal, it's no wonder these kids are on their phone nonstop instead of doing what they're supposed to be doing. 

The rape comment was pretty horrific.  The stuff like nude pictures being passed around on social media is not a shock for me.  Promiscuity and sexual activity seemed to have really ramped up with teens in general over the years.  It's not like teenagers were holding off on sex until just recently but I do feel like the age that kids start engaging in these behaviors has been trending younger and younger over time.  I remember one year one of our freshman girls started high school already pregnant.  One of my freshman years ago got 2 weeks of ISD because he was caught having sex in a janitor's closet during school hours.  The teacher in the room next to mine had a freshman last year get ISD because she was caught giving her boyfriend oral sex in a hallway before school started.  It was pretty early so there weren't a lot of people around and she was under a blanket while doing this, but the fact that it was so out in the open, makes it even more troubling.

Overall, I did enjoy the show.  I wasn't really sure how realistic I would find it.  Based on my own experiences, I would say that what was shown is pretty accurate for a lot of schools in the U.S. 

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 I don’t envy today’s high school students. I would only go back if I could go back with the knowledge I have now and the metabolism I had then.  

That said, I sure as heck would not get braces put on just for the show! I feel bad for the girl getting braces added to her “disguise.” Maybe that’s karma for her being a bully back high school? I remember very well how uncomfortable braces were—even though I was fortunate enough to be out of braces by the time I was a freshman. 

 I think I’m already shocked and I’m only about a third of the way through the episode. (I admit that part of that is culture shock since I went to Catholic school for H.S. Talking back to teachers, cussing, or being disruptive just didn’t happen without severe consequences.)  I don’t have kids so I didn’t realize how pervasive social media seems to be inside the schools.

Edited by PityFree
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54 minutes ago, zorak said:

Regarding the cell phones, I'm not shocked that it's so blatant and problematic.  I'm a high school teacher and I'm very curious about what that district's official policy states regarding cell phone usage in class.  I think it was the principal (or maybe the superintendent) who said that the policy is that the students are not supposed to be on their phones unless the teacher has deemed it ok for educational purposes.  My question is, what are the consequences for violating that policy?  That was never said so I would love to know if there are any consequences.  The policy is pretty useless unless there are consequences that would curb the students being on the phones when they're not supposed to be. 

 

Overall, I did enjoy the show.  I wasn't really sure how realistic I would find it.  Based on my own experiences, I would say that what was shown is pretty accurate for a lot of schools in the U.S. 

I'm a teacher as well and I was curious about the penalty for using a phone when it was not appropriate. Our school takes them up, charges $15, and the parents of the student have to pick it up. In my classroom, I lay it out from the first day that phones are never to be out while I am lecturing, students are giving presentations, or if students have work to finish. Once they are done for the day, they may be on their phones silently with no headphones. If they can't follow this on an individual basis, I will take up their phone for the period and give detentions and other consequences if things escalate from there (very rare). If it is a class-wide issue, then phones are banned for everyone and if they are taken up, they are taken to the office to pay the fee. My students do a very good job following the policy and I rarely have problems (these are also just on-level kids, not AP or Pre-AP). 

I was also getting more and more frustrated as they showed the teachers. The lack of structure and classroom management was mind-boggling and I was itching to jump through my screen and go all Nanny 911 Teacher Edition. Where are the seating charts? Where is the daily schedule (or posted two-week schedule, if you're an over planner like me)? Where is the objective for the day? Where are the expectations for the work that needs to be done? Where do students pick up late work? What do students do if they're late? I was looking for procedure and all I saw was chaos. It's no wonder these kids act the way they do in class. No one is holding them to higher expectations or giving them the structure they need to succeed. I am not a perfect teacher by any means, but I refuse to allow my classroom to be a zoo. 

The technology stuff is pretty much par for the course. Facebook and MySpace were popular when I was in high school, but I don't remember any specific cyberbullying that went on so it's hard for me to relate to that. To me, at least, you have the power to block phone numbers, delete friend requests, report people for harassment on various platforms, and the ability to turn off your phone, which is what my friends and I did if someone tried being nasty for whatever reason. When Lina kept complaining about her phone buzzing so much, I literally said out loud: "Then turn it off." 

Final thoughts: Erin looks exactly like Dustin from Stranger Things

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36 minutes ago, PoshSprinkles said:

I'm a teacher as well and I was curious about the penalty for using a phone when it was not appropriate. Our school takes them up, charges $15, and the parents of the student have to pick it up. In my classroom, I lay it out from the first day that phones are never to be out while I am lecturing, students are giving presentations, or if students have work to finish. Once they are done for the day, they may be on their phones silently with no headphones. If they can't follow this on an individual basis, I will take up their phone for the period and give detentions and other consequences if things escalate from there (very rare). If it is a class-wide issue, then phones are banned for everyone and if they are taken up, they are taken to the office to pay the fee. My students do a very good job following the policy and I rarely have problems (these are also just on-level kids, not AP or Pre-AP). 

I was also getting more and more frustrated as they showed the teachers. The lack of structure and classroom management was mind-boggling and I was itching to jump through my screen and go all Nanny 911 Teacher Edition. Where are the seating charts? Where is the daily schedule (or posted two-week schedule, if you're an over planner like me)? Where is the objective for the day? Where are the expectations for the work that needs to be done? Where do students pick up late work? What do students do if they're late? I was looking for procedure and all I saw was chaos. It's no wonder these kids act the way they do in class. No one is holding them to higher expectations or giving them the structure they need to succeed. I am not a perfect teacher by any means, but I refuse to allow my classroom to be a zoo. 

The technology stuff is pretty much par for the course. Facebook and MySpace were popular when I was in high school, but I don't remember any specific cyberbullying that went on so it's hard for me to relate to that. To me, at least, you have the power to block phone numbers, delete friend requests, report people for harassment on various platforms, and the ability to turn off your phone, which is what my friends and I did if someone tried being nasty for whatever reason. When Lina kept complaining about her phone buzzing so much, I literally said out loud: "Then turn it off." 

Final thoughts: Erin looks exactly like Dustin from Stranger Things

Preach!!! 

I don't know if I will be able to watch this show for fear of me calling that school principal and telling her how much her teachers suck. 

Those teachers need Rick Morris and Jo Frost to help with classroom management! The photography teacher should not have to repeat himself 2737845 times. Oh my God. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I watch this.

I am glad there are other teachers here on the board to explain that "most teachers don't know what is going on" is a myth.

We know a lot, but our hands (and ideal consequences) are tied by Admin - and ALL students, regardless of what state they reside in, know it...especially when they ask to go to the office. That is how I know it is hinky. No offense to any administrators here, but that has been my experience during the last ten years. Consequences are that students typically participate in "restorative justice", depending on the severity of their choice to act a fool.

We cannot even suspend a student in Calif anymore due to a change in EdCode (unless they really do something awful) and that, along with most schools not having a uniform policy re: phones, are two of the biggest impediments for me on a daily basis. 

Edited by Bridget · Reason: Content
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42 minutes ago, PoshSprinkles said:

I was also getting more and more frustrated as they showed the teachers. The lack of structure and classroom management was mind-boggling and I was itching to jump through my screen and go all Nanny 911 Teacher Edition.

Yes, I too, was cringing at some of those teachers.  But I wonder if it's a matter of those particular teachers not having the greatest classroom management skills or if it's more widespread and they've more or less given up because there is a lack of administrative support when it comes to backing them up regarding discipline.  Regardless, it's problematic.

 

14 minutes ago, Bridget said:

Our hands are tied by Admin - and ALL students, regardless of what state they reside in, know it...especially when they ask to go to the office. That is how I know it is hinky. No offense to any administrators here, but that has been my experience during the last ten years.

We cannot even suspend a student in Calif anymore due to a change in EdCode (unless they really do something awful) and that, along with most schools not having a uniform policy re: phones, are two of the biggest impediments for me on a daily basis. 

I absolutely agree that schools and teachers are very limited in what they can do to punish students these days.  It also doesn't help that there are a lot of parents out there that insist that their child can do no wrong and that if their kid did do something bad, it's somehow the teacher's fault or the school's fault.  To be fair, there are still parents out there who are supportive but these days, I never know what kind of response I will get from parents if I call them or email them about an issue I'm having with their kid.

 

46 minutes ago, PityFree said:

Ok. The rape thing?? That is TERRIFYING. WTF is happening in that school?

I think that was a case of a bigger problem that we are facing as a society.  There seems to be a major decline in people having empathy for others these days.  There are a lot of kids out there who seem to be dead inside and seemingly have no conscience.  There's a lot of "What's in it for me?" or "This doesn't affect me, so why should I care?" kinds of attitudes that seem to be  more prevalent as the years go by.  I'm willing to bet that whoever made the rape comment has probably been raised by someone who is largely absent or who has an equally frightening attitude towards others in this world.

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48 minutes ago, zorak said:

Yes, I too, was cringing at some of those teachers.  But I wonder if it's a matter of those particular teachers not having the greatest classroom management skills or if it's more widespread and they've more or less given up because there is a lack of administrative support when it comes to backing them up regarding discipline.  Regardless, it's problematic.

 

I absolutely agree that schools and teachers are very limited in what they can do to punish students these days.  It also doesn't help that there are a lot of parents out there that insist that their child can do no wrong and that if their kid did do something bad, it's somehow the teacher's fault or the school's fault.  To be fair, there are still parents out there who are supportive but these days, I never know what kind of response I will get from parents if I call them or email them about an issue I'm having with their kid.

 

I think that was a case of a bigger problem that we are facing as a society.  There seems to be a major decline in people having empathy for others these days.  There are a lot of kids out there who seem to be dead inside and seemingly have no conscience.  There's a lot of "What's in it for me?" or "This doesn't affect me, so why should I care?" kinds of attitudes that seem to be  more prevalent as the years go by.  I'm willing to bet that whoever made the rape comment has probably been raised by someone who is largely absent or who has an equally frightening attitude towards others in this world.

Yes to everything! 

 How could I forget about the "my child can do no wrong" parents?!

It's straight up insulting to my intelligence, education and experience when told in meetings: "my kid would never do that" or "well, my kid said that YOU said/did XYZ and that you don't like them."

I love what I do, truly, but being blamed for a student who is failing or has made poor behavior choices is when I insist on having an Admin with me because I refuse to further personally kowtow to parents or enable the kids who are screwing up to not take accountability for their actions.

I know it's not every parent that thinks we should coddle their student, but it feels like it is after only  one encounter with someone who is clueless about their kid's grades until the progress reports are sent home and send scathing emails to us instead of talking TO their kid and logging into the parent/student portals that show HW, upcoming tests and deadlines. 

Spot on re: empathy. It is in a group of rapidly disappearing things like "please/thank you", being able to have great lessons/group conversations about character traits, plot twists, theme, and conflict as many of my students (when I taught grade 8 and we read "The Outsiders") think that the police murdered Dally...after I specifically explained the law when it comes to brandishing a firearm and what usually happens.

They just don't get it. I understand that their experience with the law colors their world and opinions about law enforcement, but everything is about them because they don't know any other way of thinking of living, especially when parents are not around/involved with their lives. And that sucks, it does, but the refusal to stop and think about an opposing view for an exercise in critical thinking has hindered them more than they will know. That makes me sad.

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I've loved being a fly on the wall in the discussion between real-world teachers here. I wonder if the teachers at the school in the show were the only ones who allowed filming? Either because their classes were less structured, or they were trying to out how their kids act, or whatever reason. In any case, my thanks go out to anyone who is willing to teach in this day and age. Between government regulations, parents who don't want to parent, and parents working 3 jobs to put a roof over everyone's heads.... well, that's a mess without even factoring in the "me first" attitude more prevalent these days. Much respect, gratitude and love to y'all teachers!!

There are more kids coming in next week, right? Right now I only remember baby-voice PhD student, and brother-sister Latinx. I think there was a 4th -- was it gay white male? or is he later? Anyway, I'm in.

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13 hours ago, zorak said:

Yes, I too, was cringing at some of those teachers.  But I wonder if it's a matter of those particular teachers not having the greatest classroom management skills or if it's more widespread and they've more or less given up because there is a lack of administrative support when it comes to backing them up regarding discipline.  Regardless, it's problematic.

 

I absolutely agree that schools and teachers are very limited in what they can do to punish students these days.  It also doesn't help that there are a lot of parents out there that insist that their child can do no wrong and that if their kid did do something bad, it's somehow the teacher's fault or the school's fault.  To be fair, there are still parents out there who are supportive but these days, I never know what kind of response I will get from parents if I call them or email them about an issue I'm having with their kid.

 

I think that was a case of a bigger problem that we are facing as a society.  There seems to be a major decline in people having empathy for others these days.  There are a lot of kids out there who seem to be dead inside and seemingly have no conscience.  There's a lot of "What's in it for me?" or "This doesn't affect me, so why should I care?" kinds of attitudes that seem to be  more prevalent as the years go by.  I'm willing to bet that whoever made the rape comment has probably been raised by someone who is largely absent or who has an equally frightening attitude towards others in this world.

I knew it was bad, but this show opened my eyes (and then caused them to shut hard and open again). I feel like social media has exasperated these problems. Instead of waiting to gossip by word of mouth, it's instantaneous and moves a a very rapid pace. "Oh, she's pretty, oh, she's bad AF" to........rape? Glad I don't have kids, especially a girl. 

It was bad when I was in school and I wound up doing MMA so no one would harass me (it worked). I can't imagine how it is now, it seems pretty terrible. 

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On 1/10/2018 at 1:10 PM, Whimsy said:

I feel like phones being available in classes changed dramatically as the school shootings increased.  I personally wanted my daughters to be able to contact me if there was a shooting. 

I have never really understood this stance. In the event of a school shooting or other emergency, there will almost certainly be a robo call to all parents of students. And the people in the school will not have the appropriate information, they will be in panic mode. I cannot imagine a situation where a parent would be sitting at home wondering why their kid isn't home from school yet and not knowing something was happening. Also, in every active shooter drill I have participated in (both in schools and my workplace) it has been told to everyone involved that when the police enter the building, they are looking to subdue the shooter, not ask questions or find out details. A cell phone in a student's hand could so easily be mistaken for a weapon. That is much scarier to me, that an unarmed kid would get shot by a cop because they have a cell phone in their hand. 

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1 hour ago, sara416 said:

I have never really understood this stance. In the event of a school shooting or other emergency, there will almost certainly be a robo call to all parents of students. And the people in the school will not have the appropriate information, they will be in panic mode. I cannot imagine a situation where a parent would be sitting at home wondering why their kid isn't home from school yet and not knowing something was happening. Also, in every active shooter drill I have participated in (both in schools and my workplace) it has been told to everyone involved that when the police enter the building, they are looking to subdue the shooter, not ask questions or find out details. A cell phone in a student's hand could so easily be mistaken for a weapon. That is much scarier to me, that an unarmed kid would get shot by a cop because they have a cell phone in their hand. 

THIS!!

FYI: About 50% of my students walk into the classroom with their phone charging cords (their phones are already down 20% by 2nd or 3rd period), but they didn't finish their HW, don't have their supplies or even a pencil. It blows my mind.

When kids have their phones during a lockdown, nine times out of ten their phones are on vibrate, not silent. They think teachers can't hear vibrating phones, but we do!  And just like in real life, vibrate can be very audible. Or, they foolishly turn on their phones, which always make noise, which then has created a possible situation where a student has possibly risked having their classroom targeted during a school shooting or any other intruder-on-campus lockdown because the intruder(s) heard a phone. We have been trained (and practice drills) to be silent, close the blinds, lock the doors and hide under desks, but if one kid's phone goes off or if they use it & it makes a single noise, all it takes is one bad person with decent hearing to identify a classroom with people in it. That's what the kids don't get because "it can't happen to me."

You also make a great point about law enforcement shooting first and asking questions later. I totally agree with you.

During staff training, it's also been drilled into us that kids are to stay off the phones (calling or texting) during lockdowns because the school/police don't want or need parents freaking out and coming to the school when no one knows what's going on yet. Worried parents are a distraction to the first responders. I don't have kids yet and cannot understand how it would feel to ever be in that situation (possible shooting at my kid's school), but the parents are doing more harm than good by showing up and freaking out. Kids texting with their parents turns into a giant game of "I heard that......" and creates even more anxiety for the parents/guardians.

Phones weren't even allowed on a school campus until after Columbine, and then it took a federal law to be passed to allow students have a phone in their possession in the event they needed to call home and say "I'm at XYZ, I'm OK, please come get me" after the situation has been handled. 

Before I forget, we heard the principal talk about technology and its importance on the show, but technology isn't only the use of a mobile phone. While most students are considered "tech savvy", there are many fundamentals they are still missing or don't even know. It takes more time to have students grab a laptop (almost every classroom has one for every student these days) to work on a lesson that requires technology, but it's got to be done. Using a laptop is still a teachable and necessary skill in itself, especially as most students do not know how to type, thus taking a student two to three times longer to complete any typed assignments in the first place. Phones cannot and should not take the place of a laptop for academic work unless there are five minutes left in class and it's a quick "everyone Google the following author and do XYZ with the info."

As students head out into the "real world", they have to know basic computer skills. Unfortunately, I have not see any Computer Literacy courses offered at any secondary schools where I live. Students are expected to use laptops throughout the year to create presentations, research information and submit work to a website with a deadline. I cannot tell you how many students forget passwords because they sadly don't choose something simple to remember, OR, my personal favorite, they gave their password to a friend and the friend changed it! True Story! Fundamentals like setting up a Word doc, creating margins, using the correct font/size, saving to a USB drive or e-mailing themselves a copy of their assignment are things I have seen too many students struggle with. I cannot tell you how many students plagiarize, go to the wrong site to submit something or typed their password too fast and got locked out of their accounts.

All of that said, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still go to work every day. Honest to God. Teaching sucks at times; I won't sugar coat it. However, even one "Aha!" moment that a student has or when a student masters a skill they have struggled with or when you hear the hilarious things that come out of their mouths are only a few of the reasons why we get up at Early O'Clock in the morning.

Most students are also very attuned to which teachers want to be there versus which teachers who are just there to ride it out until their retirement or who are simply checked out/not happy. As long as teachers are the most authentic version of themselves, have had the right training/models to learn from in classroom management and create an environment that students feel safe in, it makes it much easier to "commandeer" 35-40 teenagers in a class without the chaos and disrespect that was running wild in that photography class! I'm convinced that students smell fear or nervousness, so even if a teacher is having an off day, they have to fake it til they make it!

There's a very fine line between being their friend (which we are not) and being a respected authority figure. The younger photography teacher seemed like a newer teacher, which makes him ripe for the picking when it comes to students who choose to make choices that are disrespectful. The English teacher didn't have the same problems as the younger teacher, yet their classroom demographics seemed similar. She's got experience on her side, and probably taught older siblings of her students, but one can tell that she doesn't have students traipsing in after the bell or mouthing off. Something about her makes it seem that she was just as confident and respected when she began her career.

Wow. This is a lot longer than I thought it would be. I didn't realize how many issues this TV show is bringing up for me! :)

Edited by Bridget · Reason: content
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Appreciate the comments from high school teachers.  I went to Catholic school back in the 60's and my kids went to a very small rural high school  (76 in the graduating class) so I am totally shocked at the chaos in the classrooms; the blatant disrespect and ignoring the teachers. I would dread getting up for work if I had to face that every day.  Recently two of my grandchildren asked to be home schooled because the couldn't " focus" or "learn anything" in their classes.  Now I'm starting to understand why.

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On ‎1‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 11:55 AM, SuzySmith said:

I'm watching with interest as I worked at this school for four years.  I see lots of familiar faces (staff and student) in the crowd. 

Cool.

Approximately how many students attend that school? 

I shuddered at the amount of disrespect the majority of the students on this program showed towards the teachers. The talking back, the bad language, the attitudes, I swear, I pity the children who are in school today and who are dealing with this crap. My youngest is in high school. I know he has been dealing with these kind of ratchet students. I also know many students don't come from healthy homes and environments. That plays a part in how they behave. 

 

17 minutes ago, Caseysgirl said:

Appreciate the comments from high school teachers.  I went to Catholic school back in the 60's and my kids went to a very small rural high school  (76 in the graduating class) so I am totally shocked at the chaos in the classrooms; the blatant disrespect and ignoring the teachers. I would dread getting up for work if I had to face that every day.  Recently two of my grandchildren asked to be home schooled because the couldn't " focus" or "learn anything" in their classes.  Now I'm starting to understand why.

I also attended Catholic school. I am so glad because aside from the education, the respect that was expected and demanded by the staff and faculty from the students is something I am deeply thankful for every single day. When I left Catholic school after 8th grade to attend public high school, the culture shock I experienced was immense. Seeing students disrespect other students and staff...oy vey.  I remember being singled out by a few teachers for my good behavior. Example, teachers would keep the rest of the class after the period was over while allowing me to leave because I was the only one who wasn't causing a ruckus or speaking when the teacher was talking. It was in some ways a good feeling, but the feeling of those stares from the other kids as I walked out of class knowing I was being rewarded, made me feel at times if I could be a target for something. Thankfully, nothing ever happened. I was proud to be a great student and one who respected the teachers. I didn't necessarily always like my teachers, but I also wasn't sent to the office or kept afterschool.  

Edited by GreatKazu
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@Bridget I think you must be my sister from another mister because I 100% agree with everything you said in your most recent post.  Teaching is not an easy gig, especially when you're first starting out.  I look back on my first year of teaching and I cringe.  And I don't even think I was a bad teacher back then but 16 years later, I've definitely evolved and am much improved.  Classroom management is one of the hardest things to master.  You can't be a pushover but you also can't be the extreme hard ass on the other end of the spectrum that all the kids hate because you are too over the top strict (and yes, I do think there is such a thing as being too strict).

Regarding the photography teacher, I will say that at my school, right or wrong, fair or not, there are certain electives that equate to blow off classes in the eyes of the students.  Sometimes it's because a previous teacher let it be a ridiculously easy blow off class, which then attracts the students who are unmotivated and lazy.  Other times it's because the kids mistakenly think that just because something is an elective, it's automatically going to be a class they don't have to put much effort into.  I've also had students tell me that their parents don't care if they fail their electives as long as they pass the classes they need for graduation.  It would be interesting to see what the first day and first few weeks of school looked like in the photography teacher's class.  Those beginning days really set the tone for the rest of the year.

One of the kids on the show said that they feel lost if they don't have their phone for even 5 minutes (or something to that effect).  I believe a lot of our teenagers are addicted to their cell phones.  I always tell mine that if they can't live without their phone for one class period, they've got a problem.  Also, there are way too many parents that text their kids during class time or even call them during class.  It's bad enough when their friends are the culprits but it really irks me when it's the parents who are doing it.  I've had students try to argue that it's necessary that their phone be on at all times because what if their parents need to contact them in an emergency?  My response to that is that if there's an emergency, their parents can call the school and the school will get the message to the kid.  There was a time before cell phones existed and people were able to contact their kids at school by calling the school, if need be.

My first year of teaching we had a simulated school shooting scenario during one of our inservice days that involved local law enforcement.  I will never forget when the swat team told us that when they come to evacuate us, they will shoot first and ask questions later.  They were very clear that your arms needed to be held up at all times, with nothing in your hands.  So having your phone in your hand is basically an invitation to be shot at during an evacuation.

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1 hour ago, GreatKazu said:

Cool.

Approximately how many students attend that school? 

I shuddered at the amount of disrespect the majority of the students on this program showed towards the teachers. The talking back, the bad language, the attitudes, I swear, I pity the children who are in school today and who are dealing with this crap. My youngest is in high school. I know he has been dealing with these kind of ratchet students. I also know many students don't come from healthy homes and environments. That plays a part in how they behave. 

 

I also attended Catholic school. I am so glad because aside from the education, the respect that was expected and demanded by the staff and faculty from the students is something I am deeply thankful for every single day. When I left Catholic school after 8th grade to attend public high school, the culture shock I experienced was immense. Seeing students disrespect other students and staff...oy vey.  I remember being singled out by a few teachers for my good behavior. Example, teachers would keep the rest of the class after the period was over while allowing me to leave because I was the only one who wasn't causing a ruckus or speaking when the teacher was talking. It was in some ways a good feeling, but the feeling of those stares from the other kids as I walked out of class knowing I was being rewarded, made me feel at times if I could be a target for something. Thankfully, nothing ever happened. I was proud to be a great student and one who respected the teachers. I didn't necessarily always like my teachers, but I also wasn't sent to the office or kept afterschool.  

The chaos I witnessed when they showed those classrooms is why I don’t complain about paying my nieces’ and nephew’s tuition for Catholic school. Nor do I complain about paying my property taxes that go to schools even though I don’t have kids— I believe that all schools should be properly funded and I want to do my part. All kids deserve a distraction free environment in which to learn. Public school teachers have so many obstacles put in their way that keeps them from being able to do their jobs to their fullest potential. No way is Highland Park high school a place where any learning is going on. 

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2 hours ago, zorak said:

@Bridget I think you must be my sister from another mister because I 100% agree with everything you said in your most recent post.  Teaching is not an easy gig, especially when you're first starting out.  I look back on my first year of teaching and I cringe.  And I don't even think I was a bad teacher back then but 16 years later, I've definitely evolved and am much improved.  Classroom management is one of the hardest things to master.  You can't be a pushover but you also can't be the extreme hard ass on the other end of the spectrum that all the kids hate because you are too over the top strict (and yes, I do think there is such a thing as being too strict).

Regarding the photography teacher, I will say that at my school, right or wrong, fair or not, there are certain electives that equate to blow off classes in the eyes of the students.  Sometimes it's because a previous teacher let it be a ridiculously easy blow off class, which then attracts the students who are unmotivated and lazy.  Other times it's because the kids mistakenly think that just because something is an elective, it's automatically going to be a class they don't have to put much effort into.  I've also had students tell me that their parents don't care if they fail their electives as long as they pass the classes they need for graduation.  It would be interesting to see what the first day and first few weeks of school looked like in the photography teacher's class.  Those beginning days really set the tone for the rest of the year.

One of the kids on the show said that they feel lost if they don't have their phone for even 5 minutes (or something to that effect).  I believe a lot of our teenagers are addicted to their cell phones.  I always tell mine that if they can't live without their phone for one class period, they've got a problem.  Also, there are way too many parents that text their kids during class time or even call them during class.  It's bad enough when their friends are the culprits but it really irks me when it's the parents who are doing it.  I've had students try to argue that it's necessary that their phone be on at all times because what if their parents need to contact them in an emergency?  My response to that is that if there's an emergency, their parents can call the school and the school will get the message to the kid.  There was a time before cell phones existed and people were able to contact their kids at school by calling the school, if need be.

My first year of teaching we had a simulated school shooting scenario during one of our inservice days that involved local law enforcement.  I will never forget when the swat team told us that when they come to evacuate us, they will shoot first and ask questions later.  They were very clear that your arms needed to be held up at all times, with nothing in your hands.  So having your phone in your hand is basically an invitation to be shot at during an evacuation.

I couldn't agree more!

I'm sending in my Ancestry.com DNA sample in tomorrow; I have always wanted a sister!!!

Edited by Bridget
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2 hours ago, PityFree said:

The chaos I witnessed when they showed those classrooms is why I don’t complain about paying my nieces’ and nephew’s tuition for Catholic school. Nor do I complain about paying my property taxes that go to schools even though I don’t have kids— I believe that all schools should be properly funded and I want to do my part. All kids deserve a distraction free environment in which to learn. Public school teachers have so many obstacles put in their way that keeps them from being able to do their jobs to their fullest potential. No way is Highland Park high school a place where any learning is going on. 

Many thanks to you for your understanding, financial support and realistic views about the way public schools are run. 

I have many friends who are public school teachers and they send their own kids to private school for the first few years (PreK to grade 1)! They want their own kids to firmly grasp the basics because they KNOW what can happen during those formative years of learning in public schools.

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I think these kids are only mirroring what they see in the outer society.

Right now the society is saying that they one percent has everything, so why even tru for the American dream, no matter what, you’re screwed.

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I just started watching this show, as my colleague told me about it. I teach at a public school in Canada, and I’m interested to see the similarities and differences between students here and in the US. 

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8 hours ago, hula-la said:

I just started watching this show, as my colleague told me about it. I teach at a public school in Canada, and I’m interested to see the similarities and differences between students here and in the US. 

This school may not necessarily be a good representation for all US schools. This school has a lot of transient people (military? I know the USCG had our main administrative offices there for a long time) so very high turnover of students. That makes it very hard for consistency in teaching, I’d think. Non-educator here though. 

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12 hours ago, Whimsy said:

This school may not necessarily be a good representation for all US schools. This school has a lot of transient people (military? I know the USCG had our main administrative offices there for a long time) so very high turnover of students. That makes it very hard for consistency in teaching, I’d think. Non-educator here though. 

I'd say this school is more representative of an urban or Title I school in the United States as there seems to be a high rate of poverty amongst the students. Poverty often brings other challenges for these students, such as transience, crime (committed either by them or being surrounded by it making it seem normal/acceptable), and instability. School tends to be the low on the list of cares of many of the students.  

The majority of US schools tend to be rural/suburban. The wealthier districts can afford to offer students AP, IB, and college-level courses and an array of extra-curiculars. The students are better behaved because there are higher expectations placed on them by their parents and community so the best teachers flock to these areas to teach these students. The schools also keep out the "trouble-makers" (i.e. low-income) with a price barrier, as many of these communities will block low-income housing from being built in the area, jack up rent prices (or not offer any rentals), and keep property taxes high. 

Suburban schools have many of the same issues as seen in Highland Park, but they tend to be more hidden or taken care of behind the scenes. 

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31 minutes ago, PoshSprinkles said:

@Whimsy Will there be individual episode threads? They just aired the second episode last night. 

You guys can create them if I don't.  I'll do episode two right now though.

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The first big event of the spring semester gives the undercover adults an opportunity to better understand the school's racially diverse community.

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HP is the smallest of 3 traditional high schools in Topeka Public Schools.  There are an additional 5 high schools in the county.   They also are situated in the poorest area of the county.  Much of the transiency is due to economic factors.  The free/reduced lunch population is around 80% (which is less than it has been in years past).    

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I also gave the side-eye to the principal when she, and some of the students, said there were no problems with the different races at the school. I grew up in a majority-white school (90%), but the few minority students mainly interacted with each other and occasionally the white students. I also see this as a teacher at a school that is a bit more racially diverse. All one has to do is walk by the lunch room and look at the lunch tables to see this. The only exception is sports teams, where communication and camaraderie naturally develop, so you will see a bit more friendly interaction amongst students of different backgrounds. 

As soon as Emily won winter royalty queen, I knew that there would be outrage in the form of rigging and racism. It's a tale as old as time. It happened when I was in school as well, but the comments were mainly in the "rigging" category as most of the girls who won homecoming had parents who were in prominent positions in the community. There's always sour grapes when it comes to things like this, which is why I almost wish they'd do away with these events. Also, the bigger problem I am starting to see as a teacher with homecoming/winter royalty/coronation events is students cruelly nominating mentally handicapped students to retaliate against the popular students, because they know that the majority of people will vote for the mentally handicapped student out of pity or because they think it's funny. I know this isn't the case everywhere, but I've seen it happen more often than I like in my relatively short teaching career. 

I also have to give props to the English teacher, it's obvious her classroom management is on-point with how well-behaved the kids are. She's 2 for 2 on these episodes so far. Kudos!!!

Edited by PoshSprinkles · Reason: It doubled my post for some reason.
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The bit that got me was the latin girl who wanted to be a school supervisor. Her intent was to study the latino population in this school. However since she grew up as a latino in a school - wouldn't it be more educational for her to integrate with other factions in order to learn the other side of the story ? Especially since she wants to be a supervisor and should therefore have an understanding of all cultures within a school ?

The discipline in this school shocked me though - there was a complete lack of it- and to be allowed to use phones so freely !

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One thing about this show that has struck me is class size.  It's hard to get a true idea of just how many kids are in a class because we never get a wide shot of the whole classroom all at once.  But I have noticed what looks like a lot of empty desks in many of the classes we have seen.  I would love to know what is the average class size at this school.  That AP English class seemed to have less than 10 kids, which is crazy to me.  At the school I teach in, we are battling the ever increasing class sizes.  Part of it is because my district has seen a lot of growth over the last 17 years.  But a bigger part is the fact that the state I live in puts public education dead last when it comes to prioritizing.  All of the public schools in my state have had massive budget cuts, which has forced huge class sizes.  Last year, in my district they were trying to keep it around 32 kids per class, but that's in a perfect world.  I have had classes as big as 35.  By contrast, my first year of teaching, it seems like most of my classes were around 24 students.  A teacher in my department a few years ago, who had previously taught in California, said that in California he would routinely have 40 kids in a class.  I can only imagine how much worse the behavior might be with the students we're seeing on the show, if these classes were jam packed with students who don't want to listen and don't care about school.

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9 hours ago, PoshSprinkles said:

I also have to give props to the English teacher, it's obvious her classroom management is on-point with how well-behaved the kids are. She's 2 for 2 on these episodes so far. Kudos!!!

 

Both Walton (the woman) and Kickhaefer (the male drama teacher) are amazing teachers.  They truly love the kids at HP and would do anything for them.  In return, they get a lot of respect from the kids.

One thing that's sad to see is that the basketball team still runs amok.  The boys with the red backpacks with the white & green HP - varsity BB players.  They've won state many times and are always a force.  They were also allowed for years to do whatever they wanted, no consequences.  They were the ones heckling a girl in the hall during episode 1, they are also a large portion of the kids in photography creating havoc.   

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 I’m kind of relieved that this week’s show showed us a couple of non-chaotic classes.  Apparently that photography teacher has zero control over her class and I wonder why. 

 I’m also a little relieved that the principal was able to find out the person who made the rape comment wasn’t a student. It’s still bad though.

I knew there would be accusations of cheating after Emily won Winter Queen. Also, what kind of weird title is Winter Queen/King that is not attached to a dance (like prom or homecoming)? Why keep a crowning ceremony that just creates more division within the student body?  There doesn’t seem to be any point to it. The  School administrator admitted that they had to make rules in order to make the nominations more reflective of the student body as a whole. Why not tie a title like that to community works or good grades or an academic project?  It seems like athletics is already revered at the school above anything else; why continue that?  Don’t they want anything better for their students?

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14 hours ago, PityFree said:

It seems like athletics is already revered at the school above anything else; why continue that?  Don’t they want anything better for their students?

I'm sure the administration does, but sports, especially high school sports, are huge revenue generators and gives the community something fun and exciting to rally around and support. It's just not as much "fun" to go and support the kids who do academic decathlon or host a huge party for the kid who earned one of the National Merit scholarships and plans to become a nuclear physicist. 

It also depends on your background. There are those who simply don't value education and think school is a waste of time and anyone who focuses on it is "snobby" or "elitist". Likewise, there are those who do value education and think athletics are a waste of time and anyone who focuses on it does so because they're "stupid" and "can't handle anything besides a ball". 

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I think it was rigged for Emily to win.  I think about all the shit done to African Americans in this country, now everybody else wants to step on our heads to make it.

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7 minutes ago, Neurochick said:

I think it was rigged for Emily to win.  I think about all the shit done to African Americans in this country, now everybody else wants to step on our heads to make it.

Maybe, maybe not. Sounds like Emily did quite a bit of campaigning. 

We had homecoming King and Queen that was directly tied to the dance (altough there was one). We all gathered in the gym, separated by grade and they announced the winners. 

This school reminds me so much of the one I went to, minus the social media aspects. Just the demographics and  politics. 

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On 1/17/2018 at 7:42 PM, SuzySmith said:

Both Walton (the woman) and Kickhaefer (the male drama teacher) are amazing teachers.  They truly love the kids at HP and would do anything for them.  In return, they get a lot of respect from the kids.

And those were two classes no one had their phones out, right? Why are they allowed to be on their phones during class? Is this normal?

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The undercover adults make inroads with at-risk students struggling to beat the odds; two new participants are unsure if they will make any connections at the school.

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Ok guys, this one started to give me some heebie jeebies because it felt like flirting going on from the undercover students towards the actual students.  Specifically when Shane was baking cupcakes with the young lady and Jorge with the bi-sexual student.  Both were incidents where the undercover students felt like they were breaking those kids away from the packs and blurring the lines of flirting and friendship under the guise of getting them to open up.  It could be some dodgy editing or something so  I welcome other folks take on this.

I felt like that undercover student who spent what felt like forever crying about having to relinquish her phone was immature enough to blend into high school nicely.  I also wondered why we never heard her motivation for joining the project, whereas the other participants have been very expressly clear about their motivations (youth pastor, teacher, etc.).  She just didnt seem suited for the project and I was hoping for some more insight from an african-american perspective.

The premise of this show intrigues me and I will continue to watch.

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19 hours ago, Mr. R0b0t said:

Ok guys, this one started to give me some heebie jeebies because it felt like flirting going on from the undercover students towards the actual students.  Specifically when Shane was baking cupcakes with the young lady and Jorge with the bi-sexual student.  Both were incidents where the undercover students felt like they were breaking those kids away from the packs and blurring the lines of flirting and friendship under the guise of getting them to open up.  It could be some dodgy editing or something so  I welcome other folks take on this.

I felt like that undercover student who spent what felt like forever crying about having to relinquish her phone was immature enough to blend into high school nicely.  I also wondered why we never heard her motivation for joining the project, whereas the other participants have been very expressly clear about their motivations (youth pastor, teacher, etc.).  She just didnt seem suited for the project and I was hoping for some more insight from an african-american perspective.

The premise of this show intrigues me and I will continue to watch.

I kind of got that too, although in Daniel’s case I was more afraid of the girl getting a crush on him. With Jorge, maybe there was flirting, I didn’t see that as much, but I did at least breath a little sigh of relief when I saw that the student was 18. 

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Ok guys, this one started to give me some heebie jeebies because it felt like flirting going on from the undercover students towards the actual students.  Specifically when Shane was baking cupcakes with the young lady and Jorge with the bi-sexual student.  Both were incidents where the undercover students felt like they were breaking those kids away from the packs and blurring the lines of flirting and friendship under the guise of getting them to open up.  It could be some dodgy editing or something so  I welcome other folks take on this.

This was one of the first things I thought about when I heard of this show! Like, OK, they assimilate into the school to get to know what goes on with the real students--what they talk and worry about, what their interests are, what they think, etc., etc.--and the only real way to get to know the kids' real lives is to presumably be present with said kids outside of school, where they're more likely to open up. Is there no kind of issue--legal or moral or whatever--with this? Are they instructed to deal with only 18-and-over kids? I am confused! 

Oh, and what about having the kids to their houses? Is that allowed? And if it were, would the kids be like, "Where are your parents and why do you have no stuff?!"

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This show is weird.  Agree with above posts 100%. Boundary-crossing relationships seem to be evolving.  And I don't think the 'experiment' is going to do a bit of good in the real world/long-run. How is anything going to be fixed by this show?  But maybe the one girl going into the army?  That's who I have a little bit of hope for. And I guess if things get better for her, then this show was worth it?

I don't know though...again...it's just strange.  Makes me uncomfortable.

And Lina bugs me. A lot.

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11 hours ago, woodscommaelle said:

Boundary-crossing relationships seem to be evolving.  And I don't think the 'experiment' is going to do a bit of good in the real world/long-run.

I wonder if they debriefed the real students after the semester.  As I was watching I worried about what Danii would do once she either watched this show or when she found out that Shane was not who he said he was.  I really felt bad for her.  I know Shane was trying to take her under his wing but...I don't know. 

 

So yeah, I wonder what the real students thought when they found out they were "spied" on.

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On 1/25/2018 at 1:56 PM, TattleTeeny said:

 

Oh, and what about having the kids to their houses? Is that allowed? And if it were, would the kids be like, "Where are your parents and why do you have no stuff?!"

 I think that Lina and Jorge were guests at the girl’s house rather than inviting her over to the theirs. But you do bring up something I thought about also. They have to make it look as though a parent is living at their house too just in case someone comes over.  And what are they going to do for times when parents are required? The fake teens are supposed to be second semester seniors and there are a lot of events that parents normally attend. What will they do then?

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On 1/22/2018 at 10:37 PM, woodscommaelle said:

And those were two classes no one had their phones out, right? Why are they allowed to be on their phones during class? Is this normal?

TPS has a policy that basically leaves it to the teacher what they will allow.  If there is rampant use, it's tough to police it and I have no idea what the current administration at HP will or will not do regarding cell phones (IRL, not on the show).  Teachers may not choose that fight.  

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