My first two classes? Angels. They follow directions, they do their work, if I raise my voice they jump. There are some snotty brats and a couple chatterboxes--big deal! I love them all. Two boys threw down their backpacks in my second class today and started to push each other. I got between them, told them firmly this doesn't happen in my room, and asked each one separately to do me a favor and work things out like grown ups, and they were laughing and joking and making illustrations together at the end of class. Some of these sixth graders are so tiny I can't believe it. One little boy I swear looks like a second grader. He tells me crazy stories like: "Mr G I swim at a pool that is 100 feet deep. I can almost touch the bottom but I can't hold my breath long enough" or "I was riding a roller coaster and I slipped out the bottom and landed in the pool at the bottom of a loop." He is the tiniest little pudge with cornrows and a mustache and there is no roller coaster outside Dutch Wonderland that he is tall enough to ride.
I love my last class too, but it is full of head-cases. We had a sixth grade team meeting today and I asked our administrator why all the nutbags were couped up together. The teachers who had this group already today warned me that another goofball had flown in from Dunbar Middle. The administration tried to explain how East Baltimore kids were different from West B'more, and that the new kid would have an even shorter fuse and he would be frontin' hard to prove himself.
When this class came in they were a nightmare right off the bat; the new kid was a whirlwind of incitement, moving around and starting trouble. Of course the principal happened to be walking by just as I was trying to get them settled. He came in my class and said "I don't run a zoo!" He took two young ladies to his office for acting out and returned them ten minutes later. I was struggling the whole class period to reign these kids in, and finally I blew up. "Silence!" I shrieked in my scary voice. The new kid said "dag" and I got right in his face. "I said QUIET!" I moved to the front of the room and continued: "If anyone speaks before the end of class they will get ten minutes with me after school." A boy raised his hand and I shook my head at him. He put it back in his lap. "Now line up against the wall, backs to the wall. NOW. I want to see your eyes on me." I waited for them to form up. "You are going to pick up the trash on the floor NOW, and then you are going to put your folders away and then you are going to sit quietly through the afternoon announcements. Tomorrow you have ten minutes detention in this class. EVERYONE. You speak out of turn, you move without permission, and you are MINE. I AM NOT PLAYING IN HERE ANYMORE. You get on my nerves again and my other classes will get all my treats on Friday. You will get an extra weekend homework. If you follow my procedures and if you follow the rules tomorrow I will take you off my detention list. If you do not I will keep you ten minutes Thursday AND Friday."
DEAD silence ensued for the next ten minutes. My room was spic and span. They lined up at dismissal and waited quietly. I am making a new seating chart and nobody is going to like their new seat. Tough.