Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Almost There

The kids are getting wild. Because our school opened a week late following renovations we have classes until 6/17 and mandatory conferences the week after that. Everybody else in the City is done classes this week and teachers clean up next week. So the kids are freaking out because they're tired and it's too hot and they don't feel like doing any more work. Especially the 7th grade boys, the ones we inherited from the now defunct Diggs Middle. They are used to doing nothing after March except running the halls or playing in class.

So today I was struggling to keep their attention and keep them on task, and I gave up after an hour. The last half-hour was pretty glorious. They started talking and wouldn't stop. Then they started getting out of their chairs and moving around the room. I parked myself in front of a chair by the door and just sat there. Kids who got too close to the door I pushed back in the room. This used to be what I spent most of my time doing at W.C. March. It is the first time I allowed it to happen at SBCS.

But I'm as done with this year as the kids. I told them as much, at 3:35, 10 minutes after dismissal time. I stayed in my chair by the door until they realized they weren't leaving until I'd said my piece. They settled down and I asked them to circle up in front of the class. "I know how you feel. You're tired. You're hot. You can taste the summer. I'm still making you do work and you HATE it. I feel you. But we're not done. We have a Socratic Seminar tomorrow. I don't think you're ready, and I was trying to get you ready, and you all went loopy on me. We're still doing the Seminar tomorrow, and it will be a substantial part of your report card grade. We aren't done. Hang in there for a few more days."

Then I made them put up the chairs and clean up my room, and I let them go.

One of the sixth grade boys called me a racist today. That hadn't happened in a while. He was yelling loudly as I was reading to the class that the girl next to him had her foot on the bottom of his chair. One of the other kids said "Will you be quiet?" and he started screaming "how would you feel if she had her foot on your chair?" While he was yelling I asked him several times to lower his voice, and then he said "You always pick on me. You never say anything to her. You a racist piece of shit."

Of course the girl was also African-American, so his logic was a bit spotty, but all I said was "You need to apologize right now or you are leaving my room." He apologized immediately and I continued reading.

Later on I saw him in the hall and we had a chat. I told him that it didn't matter to me if L. had her foot on the bottom of his chair. What mattered to me was his behavior was disrupting class, and he continued to do so, so I called him out on it. "I don't care about feet on chair. You deal with it yourself. I care about disruptions that affect the entire class. You were disrupting class, and I thought you weren't taking responsibility for your own behavior. You can blame girls all you want but you were the one yelling. I really didn't appreciate what you said at all."

He shook my hand, and I think we "cool." But whatever. Tempers are flaring. I remember my training year when Luky was my mentor and she and I were in that crazy turret room at Booker T., sweltering in June with the 8 or 9 kids who still came to school each day. I said something about the end of the year dragging and she said "I know. Aren't you just done? It happens every year. You're fucking done with it, with the kids, with the curriculum, with the building. But you have to stay until the end."


1 comment:

Nick said...

Wait--you all opened a week late, so how come the county opened on time yet still has to go to the 17th? We're ready for the summer ASAP. I always feel guilty--I'm here and both universities have been done for almost a month, where Tien & Taran have to keep slogging it out.

Sounds like you had an ace year tho--congrats.