My 8th grade classes ran roughshod over me today. I had a lavish slideshow prepped for test review--they've got a big standardized "benchmark" test from the City the next two days, which is supposed to gauge whether they're on pace for the big No Child Left Behind standardized exams in March. I told them all Friday that I set aside $100 for each class, which I will divide amongst those who pass. That got their attention for one day. Today they didn't give a rat's ass what I had to say, or what was on the test. Perhaps a half-dozen kids out of two classes even looked at the screen today.
The old management tricks aren't working. I call their houses so often that some of their moms sent me Valentine's Day text messages with cute emoticons. The loud country music is meaningless: half the kids know Willie and Waylon's hits by heart, the rest are keen on the Carter Family, Bill Monroe, and Doc Watson. Even Merle Haggard doesn't get under their skin anymore. Banging on the desk with The Noisemaker is no longer noisome.
Last period a seventh grade girl with whom I've had major problems in the past put her head in my room. "Yo, I know you think my Victorian lip gloss be poppin'. You'd kiss me if I was old enough, would'ncha?"
"No, I wouldn't. I'm married."
"Yeah, but you know my face and lips be pretty."
"I think ALL the kids at The March are beautiful!"
This is the girl who impersonated another student in my class for a month when I first started, and who used to talk about anal sex all the time. I don't often allow myself the luxury of judging kids, but I loathe her.