This week I completed my each-one teach-one. I chose to show the film, “Homeless, The Motel Kids of Orange County.” Along with this, I put together a mini-lesson to add in more information for the group. I added in information such as a brief explanation on why we have homelessness which leads to childhood homelessness. I chose to focus on childhood homelessness because it is the driving factor on why I chose to register for this class. I am studying to become a teacher and I want to be able to understand my students as best as possible and hopefully will be better equipped to handle situations surrounding my students being homeless. In my mini-lesson, I included what effects homelessness may have on school children and what is being done by districts to help combat the effects of homelessness and even what some schools are doing to get individuals off of the streets.
During my presentation, I was struck by some of the mentalities that are common within individuals. There were comments made during the film that belittled the individuals in the film. Such as comments as “well you can tell she’s on something.” These comments threw me off in the slightest because I have been studying in an environment where these comments are not commonplace but the manner in which they were stated made me feel as though I would not be able to get my point across. Thankfully, in the end, my point seemed to come to flourishing when the individuals stated that the only way homelessness could be fixed is by fixing the housing crisis.
The film that we had previously viewed is still sticking with me. The film was entitled, “The Motel Kids of Orange County”. This film depicted kids in various situations but in an umbrella situation of limited income and insecure housing. This film was impactful but for me, previously studying education inequality at Mt. San Antonio College, the education aspect of the film is what I cannot help but focus on. A main theme through our class is if there is a solution for homelessness and the study of things in place to attempt to help make the situation easier. As we saw, the students went to a small school which looked to be a store-front. They were forced to have multiple grades in one classroom and due to government cutbacks, they were forced to let go of a few teachers. This was upsetting in the film, but it is a very true aspect of the conventional schools we see every day.
Too often, schools are forced to make cutbacks resulting in the loss of jobs or the loss of elective classes. Conventional schools also are forced to have multiple grades in one classroom and the schools who care for a majority of low-income students are often not able to keep up with the natural deterioration of their facilities.
Though these aspects are very real, schools are also, in my opinion, creating an environment where students can escape from homelessness for a few hours. Students are offered free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch and now there are talks to begin dinners, which some schools do already. Recently in the news are the talks of offering students meals throughout the school breaks. Private companies also give out grants to teachers who propose innovate lessons or trips that the schools cannot fund.
This week we watched a film in the classroom entitled “The Motel Children of Orange County”. This movie followed children through their daily lives who lived either in motels or on the streets of Orange County. They attended a school that was geared to homeless children. The class expressed that they felt this school was necessary but had its faults, partly due to the fact that school had limited funding and limited resources so to cope they placed three grade levels into one classroom. This causes difficulty when teaching higher level material and overall interactions with the students. The movie was extremely impactful because it depicted the daily struggles and daily worries that these children face. One aspect of the film that was saddening was the fact that these children are constantly surrounded by violence and sadness. This surrounding them was constantly expressed within the children, for example, the children would often act out violently, speak about how they want many guns and they spoke about witnessing violent acts as casual and relaxed. Overall, this film depicted the possible consequences that homelessness has on children. In my opinion, the film also showed how specific classifications of what it means to be homeless, are missing the mark. These definitions do not include these children and families but after watching this film, it is obvious that these children are homeless.
This week in the classroom we performed our first Jigsaw lesson. In this, we each were assigned a chapter in a text and in groups we drew that the chapter was detailing on large sheets of paper. Once we felt as though out chapter was thoroughly detailed we presented the chapter to the class. My chapter was detailing recounts of the struggles of deciding who gets a bed and how doesn’t. A main point of the chapter was the idea of the employees being forced to play God. They were making huge decisions based on small bias aspects such as personal friendliness or believability. Other individuals’ chapters contained aspects such as case study’s and more personal recounts of experiences.
All in all, the Jigsaw activity was beneficial in helping the students to understand and even to teach the material. Some of the other chapters mimicked what mine did but one aspect that a few others spoke about that I hadn’t read previously were the personal recounts of the individuals who needed to utilize the shelter. One group had explained that a woman who stayed in the shelter consistently had feelings of the workers making her feel incompetent or not valued as a person. They would demand that she recognize that she had a mental illness even though she felt as though her sadness and feelings were completely justified for a mentally healthy individual.
This week in the classroom we all discussed our progress at our internships. Many different experiences and obligations were explained. One spoken about was the experience of an individual that works with an organization who picks up food that would otherwise be thrown away and drop it off at other organizations. The student explained that the food is donated by places such as the grocery store of fast-food restaurants. The food from the grocery stores is food that has gone past its best by date by is still good and safe to eat. It was stated that there was a law passed recently that mandates that such grocery stores must donate goods in this condition. During the presentation, the individual explained how they were assisting the organization in recording all of their information down on to spreadsheets all collected on a database to allow others to access the information and to prevent the loss of critical information. This was explained to be a mandatory step in the progress of this organization because if the information stayed in just the minds of the individuals then the company could not progress or continue if another individual attempted to come in a take control.
This week we listened to two presentations from individuals who are experts in their field. The first presentation we listened to an individual named Ed Torres. He spoke to the class about Redlands Round Table on Homelessness. He spoke about how his goal is to acquire buildings to utilize them for services for homeless individuals. These buildings would be utilized as an intake center, community garden, and shelter. He and his team are attempting to acquire these buildings from the city, from my understanding. They have created a map that details which buildings belong to whom and the specific codes that must be met for each categorized area. Their goal is to meet all of the requirements for these facilities to successfully obtain these permits and rights to run their facilities.
The second individual we heard from was Peter Connery. Peter is one of the leaders in Point in Time Counts. He gave the class details on how they perform these counts and some of the surprising statistics behind today’s homeless. One surprising fact that Peter had stated was while working in the field he had learned of a one university town that had over 200 students who were identified as homeless. He continued by stating that these individuals would sleep in common areas, the library and even in the woods. This was shocking to me because if the simple fact that this is such a small population but there is such a staggering number of individuals who are homeless. It is also saddening that these individuals are in the same stage of life as our class. They are all students just attempting to better their lives, but they are in this horrible situation.
This weeks’ time in class was spent listening to speakers who are professionals in their field of work. The first set of speakers were from the HOPE Team which is a branch of the San Bernardino Sheriffs Department. The three-man crew explained their reason for being formed and the influence that they produce. They also presented us with their database that depicts all of the information that they have gathered thus far. This information included a point where they have made contact with a homeless person and if that area was one of an encampment. The data points also included the percentage of the people surveyed that have mental illness, drug addiction or those who are veterans. They explained that this technology is useful because it helps to identify those in need. They are able to keep track of the sites in which an individual has been contacted. This information also lends itself to a better knowledge of statistics. It allows a better understanding of the demographics that make up homelessness. One comment that was made that I became fixated on was the comments on panhandling. The HOPE team stated that they do not believe people should give to panhandlers. They stated that in most of their experiences, the ones panhandling were not in need. They stated that if you have the heart to give then one should give to charities that help the homeless. I also learned a valuable lesson in the resource of 211. 211 is a number to call in San Bernardino County when in need of homeless help. The men stated that this number is a resource for individuals to receive housing, emergency housing, meals, health care, etc. This is something invaluable to me because it is a resource that I have never known about previously.
This past week in the classroom we had spent time presenting information from our readings. My reading was the text entitled “Grand Central Winter”. The text recounts a personal struggle felt by a man who faced hardships and living on the street. His recount depicts the very real experiences felt on the streets of New York. The story follows his decent to the bottom and his wavering path back to himself again. He begins his fall with the death of his business partner and his brother, which quickly leads him into alcoholism and drug abuse. His always changing living conditions and constant struggles to stay one step ahead of police are a strong thread throughout the text. Lee finally begins to hit his stride when he develops a passion for writing and regains some of his entrepreneurial and passionate spirits. He struggles with getting and staying drug-free but prevails against all adversity and all obstacles in place trying to keep him down.
While discussing the text in class, it became apparent that the text was just a single example of how many have fallen down the path headed towards the streets. It was discussed that this is being the only text and understanding about the cause of homelessness, would not give a clear reality. The reality is that the road to the streets is not one set in stone. Making specific decisions does depict that homelessness would be the end result or a sure-fire way to stay off them. But in actuality, homelessness can happen to anyone, anywhere and anyhow. This a fact that can connect all of our fears or realities to each other. We try to make the best choices possible but cataclysmic results are always a possibility.
While watching the film “Taylors Campaign” in the classroom, my eyes were opened to the realities of the problems surrounding homelessness. The film depicts the real-life struggles faced by the homeless and the problems they face when dealing with the public and law enforcement. In “Taylors Campaign” a situation is shown with the police being called on homeless individuals living next offices and businesses. The individuals who called claimed that their cars had been broken into and some possessions were stolen. They argued that this was due to the homeless in the encampment while the individuals apart of the encampment argued that this was unfounded and false. The individuals living in the encampment had been living in that spot for a month without incident until the law came and cited them with blocking the sidewalk. The police stated that the individuals must move their camp or face tickets or jail time. The citizens were faced with no option but to move all their belongings to the opposite side of the street.
Another aspect of the film that was moving was in a scene with a plea to a city council to fight for homeless individuals’ rights to live on the streets and being allowed assistance from individuals willing to pass out food. A woman was explaining that her husband and herself were homeless and her husband was struggling with mental illness due to his time in the service. An impactful statement she made was, “He is mentally ill and that’s not your problem, but your freedom was his problem.” This is a direct plea to humanity and to what makes us all connected. This man was so caring and so worried for the wellbeing of others that he put his life at risk, but we are not able to see him as a hero but as a burden on our economy.