Saturday, June 11, 2005

it passed

I found this blog entry from November of my first year. This was one of my many freak-outs, which should have been subtitled "Why do I love this job so much?" I remember I felt pressure because everyone I knew seemed to be in graduate school and leading quite different lives.

"500 bucks for the moldy coffee. That's my final offer."

today i suffered through an attack of the mid-twenties and proceeded to surf the web to see what i should actually be doing with my life. here i am working nine to five (i wish) and out there are people with beautiful blogs and lives that are rich with culture and intellectualism and events. they actually read and write and publish stuff. what am i doing with my time? or, i could join a non-profit, some sort of social, environmental, or cultural justice program. but i honestly feel like i run my own little non-profit straight from my classroom. my kids talk to me when they're scared and pregnant, when they want to drop out, when they don't know where else to go. and i appreciate the non-hallmark moments when they're bugging me to eat something gross for a dollar, asking me about college, imitating dave chappell, or assuring me i'm going to love the ying yang twins. so really, i have to sit back and remind myself that i'm merely enduring a case of the twenties and this too shall pass.



I fear my blog will become boring. This isn't as bad a thing for me as it is for you. My blog might get a little snoozy (or more you say?!) and a little more technical because I'm on a natural high up in Teacherland. Summer school is very easy. I mean, it drags on a bit, but there are some very positive aspects to it. I've numbered them for you.
1). The class size. I have 15 students. This is 1/2 my average-sized class. I can give much more individual attention and I don't get overwhelmed.
2). The more attention I give, the more the kids thrive. I'm very upfront and ask them how they got to summer school. I assure them no judgment and they receive none. I explained my inquiry by stating "whatever you're doing isn't working and we need to find a new game plan." Most of my kids are avid skippers. One is a complete slacker (Slacker2005), while about four of my kids are really low level. And 13 out of 15 have terrible social studies skills. Essential ones at that--like map reading and chart/graph comprehension. The curriculum is bland and we add flavor by talking about trains, rappers, and their life choices.
3). Much to my pleasure, my kids keep announcing that they like the projects more (which I added to the curriculum) and that they've learned more in my summer school class than in their regular classes. If they're sucking up, they're pretty fucking good at it. But I honestly don't think they are. One kid laughingly admitted he got referrals all year because he hated his teacher. He's an angel in my class, whether due to teacher preference or the rigidity of summer school discipline. Either one is fine with me.

I personally like a good read about disaster, hilarity, or some good advice. I have none of these to offer. I could drone on about little technicalities of my classroom, and I probably will. Or perhaps I'll write my thoughts about race, class, and/or gender in the classroom. But wait...right now I'm mentally sipping a margarita on a Caribbean Island and basking in the ease and productiveness that is Summer School.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

summer fun.

Tantrum over. The kid didn't show. But there's always tomorrow...

My class is chock-full of kids with low social studies skills. Many of them did not know there are seven continents and half thought Europe is a country. We discussed latitude and longitude, map legends, continents, peninsulas...basic atlas skills. Next we moved on to our mapping activity that involved me saying things like, "Japan. Where is Japan? Japan is east of China. Remember, never eat sour watermelon." It's a blast, really.

My goal when working with struggling kids is to encourage them to use their imagination and learn to think for themselves. I also want to instill confidence so that they feel comfortable answering a question or taking a giant leap forward and reading the text. I have lots of timid kids in my class who seem to have fallen through the cracks. It is, however, only the first day. I have yet to see their true colors.

One kid actually laughs at my sarcasm, which is thrown out in a series of mile-a-minute tangents. (The name madhatter is not a coincidence ). This kid is way above the rest of the kids and found himself in summer school thanks to pure laziness. At one point, when the class was searching for the equator and this kid looked ready to blow his head off from boredom, I started to laugh. I couldn't help it, I have a really evil sense of humor. "This is what you get for skipping," I said. "I didn't skip!" he protested. Then he grinned. "I just didn't do anything." From the back of the room a girl yelped, "The equator is on zero Ms! What do I write?" Slacker2005's eyes popped out and his head dropped to the desk. Silently, I laughed.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Why Are you Punishing Me?

This morning I created my classroom expectations and procedures, prepared lesson plans, set out atlases and maps, copied "Who Are You?" forms, and set up my gradebook. It was after setting up my gradebook that I realized I've got an infamous student in my summer school class. My heart sank. There are a few students who drive me crazy and this kid is one of them. Keep in mind that I'm a pretty freaking compassionate person and I play well with others. This kid failed my class the first year I taught and proceeded to fail my colleague's class this past year. And now he's in summer school. Because he does absolutely nothing. NOTHING. In fact, I taught him during Credit Recovery (Saturday School) and he refused to complete work then. This kid is a product of Generation Enablement and I truly can't believe he's gotten this far. The boy reads on a sixth grade level, but he's not the only kid I have with inadequate skills. The problem is that he's a neat concoction of 1/4 laziness, 1/4 inability, and 1/2 immaturity. In addition, I think the kid likes me but he's too socially inept and immature to know how to interact with an adult. So he makes lots of rude, inappropriate comments to me, both inside and outside the classroom. And the thing is, my first year I put up with it because I didn't know how to deal with it. But this is my whopping third year I (insert self-depricating laugh) AND summer school, so he needs to watch out. Because I'm not putting up with shit.