Things that happened this week and how I handled or mishandled them:
I've been labeled as arrogant and prideful by a few recent commentors. It's true that I think I am a good teacher, and it is true that I am confident in what I believe about education. Certainly I can be arrogant, and I am often prideful. But in my arrogance and pride I want only the success of the students, even if that means I get credit!
Anyway, this week offered yet another round of wild and wacky behavior. Some of the disorder continues to baffle me into near paralyzation. I mean that.
Monday: As I walked to my car after school, I noticed a student standing at the curb waiting for a ride. She's in one of my reading classes, but she rarely attends class. We've met a few times already with the various stakeholders in this student's success.
I stopped just to chat. To tell her that I wished she would attend my class. That if she's skipping because she feels unsuccessful (an admitted truth) I'm usually available for an hour and a half after school. Then I told her to have a nice afternoon.
She only came to class one of the four days we met last week.
Tuesday: Side Show Bob (because that's who he looks like) apparently had no interest in participating. He didn't want to read the selection because, "I just don't wanna. Why do you care?" Because I want you to improve as a reader so you can do well in your other classes. Apparently that wasn't a good enough answer because he continued to distract other potential learners. He was more successful at gaining their attention than the practice assignment on theme. I sent him to the hallway where he practiced his rapping skills. I didn't bring him back in because the class was actually working diligently.
Wednesday: With only three students in one of my classes, I gave in and let them relax. I'll admit that they were effectively persuasive when all three of them pointed out that they had recently used the character analysis skills (identifying round/flat/static/dynamic and character traits) in their English class. They were beaming as they told me how "smart" they felt because most of the other students didn't know that stuff. Yeah, I'm a sucker for learning.
Thursday: As one of my "duties," I monitor a study hall in the cafeteria. There is one other teacher to keep order for over a hundred students. My task is to serve as the door-man. I sign planners allowing students to visit counselors, bathrooms, or the library. Students often try to walk right by me like I don't exist, and then I have to get their attention and remind them that a planner is required.
Well, after the ninth or tenth person ignoring me, I stopped trying. I was tired of the looks, the whining, the "But I just need to go..." I put my nose in my book about teacher evaluations (there's irony for you) and educated myself about the process.
Friday: Here's where it all went to hell. During first period, I taught the final lesson on theme and then wanted to demonstrate for the students what their new class will look like when second semester rolls around. We'll be implementing the scripted program of Corrective Reading; I thought that they might want to see a quick sample since they've been asking about it.
I was wrong. One student was defiant when I tried to move them into the seating arrangement for the activity. "I don't want to. I want to sit right here." She eventually capitulated but then would not follow the instructions. Ultimately, I wanted to engage them in a dialogue about how the program worked, why it was structured that way, and what their initial response to it might be.
She reacted. "What the fuck? I'm not in third grade. This is bullshit. I'm not going to do that." Okay, just hang on, I want to have a conversation about this, but we can't just yell. Please sit down and wait. "No. You're treating us like we're in elementary school. I'm not that fucking stupid."
Whoa, wait, listen; if you've tested into the program... (A few more cuss words) Then I gave in: well if you act like you're in third grade, I guess we have to treat you that way. (Not as an excuse, but these types of power struggles and reactions are somewhat typical of my daily grind)
She walked out, cussing all the way.
Later in the day, I handed out progress reports to another class. One student has a failing grade because she has refused to do work and tests. I've met with mom and her other teachers to little avail. This turned into me being yelled at for giving her an F, how my class sucks, I'm a jerk. In the few moments to try and communicate, I gently tried to explain that all the missing assignments can be completed if she will stay after school. Her responses were that she's not staying after school, and she walked out because, "I'm getting tight."
So there haters. I'm not perfect, and I can admit it.