Honeymoon is over. Kids starting to go haywire. New kids arriving the 4th week of school, which is always a bad scene, because it means they got put out of another school already this year.
Innocent looking white girl with long strawberry blond hair shows up yesterday. New sixth grader for my last-period class. I'm standing in the hall when I first see her. La'Clark is next to me. "You goes here now?" La'Clark asks. The new girls says "Hell yeahz."
La'Clark waits a moment for the girl to walk off and then says "Watch out Mr. G she CRAZY." I think for a moment about La'Clark's half-dozen serious suicide attempts, her numerous run-away days, her barricading herself in her room, her violent fist-fight with her step father, and I make a kind of pot-kettle-black comment because La'Clark and I are cool like that and she smiles and says: "No, Mr. G, she's not like me. She REAL crazy."
The sixth graders were redonckulous today. I got a bit Booker T. on their asses. "You haven't heard me raise my voice yet," I yelled. "Now you're going to hear it. Q! I told you to sit down three minutes ago and you are still up. J! You open your mouth one more time and I'll--I DARE you to open your mouth one more time. IS THIS WHAT YOU NEED, SIXTH GRADE? DO YOU NEED ME TO DO THIS FOR YOU TO FOLLOW A SIMPLE DIRECTION? 'BE QUIET' IS THE SIMPLEST DIRECTION I KNOW. IT'S THE EASIEST THING YOU WILL EVER LEARN IN SCHOOL. WE'RE GOING TO PRACTICE IT NOW. PUT YOUR PENCILS DOWN, CLOSE YOUR BOOKS, AND BE QUIET. I'M GOING TO PLAY COUNTRY MUSIC FOR YOU TO ENJOY WHILE YOU ARE BEING QUIET. ANYBODY MAKES A SOUND AND WE'RE STAYING FOR DETENTION. I HAVE LOTS OF COUNTRY MUSIC AND WE CAN KEEP LISTENING AFTER SCHOOL." Jaws dropped. Eyes bugged out. There were gasps. These kids have been in the hippie-dippie lovey-dovey school their whole lives. They're not used to this. I love teaching kids about their needs and norms and habits of work and learning--but sometimes I feel we give them a lot of tools for self-reflection without having any means for them to correct their behavior. They can tell you exactly what they are doing wrong using Glasser terminology and elaborate philosophical discussions about harming the community, and then 2 minutes later harm the community again. So I let Hyde out for a while to send a message.
They sat quietly for 10 minutes. We listened to Doc Watson and Merle Haggard. I dismissed them one by one, keeping the particularly annoying kids until last, and holding them a couple minutes past dismissal time.
"You get on my nerves tomorrow," I warned, "and I will find some worse music to play."
"What's worse than that mess?" T. Eye asked.
"Bug me tomorrow and you'll find out!"