Chapter 6


One year, the most popular activity among the boys was soccer. It was so popular that a teacher had to act as referee. Otherwise the large group of 30 children would wreak havoc on one another. Imagine a pinball machine with each student’s two feet as the triggers. With 60 triggers, each game was exciting and then some.

At recess one afternoon, the black and white ball rolled toward the far goal with Joe and José in close pursuit. Both of their heads were down as they looked at the ball, and naturally they collided and fell to the ground. A simple accident, you might think, but not Joe.

This fierce athlete jumped to his feet, puffed out his chest, and assumed a stance similar to that of a king cobra threatening its enemy.

Within seconds, he’d pushed José back to the ground and jumped on top of him, and the two began rolling around, battling for control.
Mr. Olavarri ran to the boys faster than his aching knee would have liked and separated them. “Off this soccer field now,” he sternly ordered.
Joe screamed back with the entire fourth grade watching, “F*** you!”


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10 Real World Lessons and Activities for the Classroom

About the author

Join Joshua Duncan on his pursuit to overcome the obstacles of poverty in a lower income elementary school. Lessons from the Back of the Line: How Teachers Change the Trajectory of Lower Income Students is a collection of true stories told by a former teacher who has lived through the same challenges his lower income students face. From incarcerated family members to abandonment, from a fundamental lack of knowledge on issues ranging from money management to eating healthy foods, from highlighting the desperate need of mentors for his students to teaching them how to control their anger and develop problem-solving skills, Josh offers an intimate portrait of why he became a teacher to impoverished students.

A poignant, thoughtful, and practical memoir, this groundbreaking book explores the many challenges these teachers, not to mention their students, face. An entrepreneur, CEO of the marketing firm Software Blueprint, LLC, and founder of the non-profit Ascension Leadership Group uplifting lower income youth, Josh reveals how, working together, dedicated teachers can help lower income students overcome the odds stacked against them.