Rule #1 of really trying to reach your students: don't go it alone.
Rule #2: If in doubt, refer to Rule #1.
I was reminded of the importance of seeking support from parents, volunteers or others in the community today. I've been trying to nail down plans for Maria, one of the original Freedom Writers, to come visit my class now that we've finished the book. I want the kids to see someone who empowered herself through writing and "came out the other side" of the violence and hatred that marrs so many of their lives. As things began to unravel when the date of her visit approached, I found myself looking at having to foot the $400 myself. As I'd put the ball in motion, I was willing to do so, but not looking forward to it.
So, I rallied the troops and called my Angel Parent. Her son was once here at the Detention Center, so she truly gets it. Within a few hours, she had made a number of emails and phone calls to various faith groups who work with both youth and prision ministries. By the time I had finished lunch, she'd found the funding. Not only that, but our beloved funders are interested in a meeting to better understand our long term needs! SCORE!
As a teacher, it's so easy to become isolated in your classroom. But if we want rich, relevant curriculum that is impacting the lives our students, connections to the community should be the norm, not the exception.