Saturday, September 15, 2007

What we have to watch out for (a partial list)

San Jose, though a relatively safe city overall, does have a significant gang problem. Our students are generally not involved in gangs directly (though we do get the occasional hard core kid), but their communities are infused in a wash of red and blue, and gang symbols are everywhere. We work hard to keep this out of our school, so that all our kids can be and feel safe, and part of that means clamping down on the little behaviors that can flare up into big problems. So, aside from all of the normal things a teacher needs to watch out for, here are some others, any of which will get a kid put on a strict "gang contract" (which usually means that further behavior will end them up in a discipline committee meeting to discuss their behavior and their desire to remain at DCP).

  • Red or blue markings on clothes or shoes

  • Red or blue hair rubber bands, red or blue pens sticking out of pockets or used to hold up hair, red or blue nail polish and makeup

  • Students writing in red pen (blue is too ubiquitous to try to prevent)

  • Crossing out 3s or 4s; replacing "e"s with "3"s or writing "e"s backwards

  • Using the numbers 3, 13, 4, or 14 inappropriately

  • Showing problems with colors (i.e. a student given a blue whiteboard marker to write with who refuses and trades for a red)

  • Certain tags like Sur, Norte, 408, ESSJ, Sharks

  • Markings at the base of the thumb (3 or 4 dots)

  • Roman numerals XIII or XIV, and clever ways to write them, such as dotting your "i"s with an "x", like in the word "live"

  • Certain hand gestures

  • The UFW eagle has also become a gang symbol. I had a couple of students building it out of unit cubes last week!

There are more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head. It may seem trivial or ridiculous to watch out for these things, but it is amazing how serious they can be, and how they can lead directly to students getting physically intimidated or hurt.


Jackie said...

I spent seven years at an alternative high school and your post brought back the good old days.

Things we had to look out for...
-favoring one side (one sleeve pushed up, pant leg rolled up...)
-tails on the ends of letters/numbers
-anything written in old english
-folks/people references
-shoe lace colors

I remember it being overwhelming at first trying to keep it all straight. Once we were on top of things though, it really did cut back on the distractions in class --how can a student concentrate on learning when they are being recruited for a gang?

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Dan Greene said...

Ahh, Old English.. We don't crack down on that one, as it is so prevalent. Students love to practice that font. I've seen students who won't do a lick of homework pouring over an Old English font template.

Wow - 7 years at an alternative high school? That must have been both interesting and incredibly difficult.

Joanne Jacobs said...

The UFW eagle is a gang symbol? How incredibly sad.