Thursday, November 03, 2005

let me do the damn thang.

it seems that my old madhatter craziness is returning and i'm enjoying the students again. i've admitted to myself that my personality riles them up and that i'm not good at running a utilitarian classroom. i feel pressure from the Old Regime to run a factory styled classroom and it's just not me. with that said, my kids are scary and animalistic, perhaps cannibalistic, and they do need to be tamed. granted, they are seated (although my third period has some serious problems with this tricky task) and there's some sense of order in my classroom. but it can get a little chaotic.

i know i'm enjoying my students and their antics more because i'm laughing again and sharing stories. i'm a pretty vivacious person and i always have a story to tell, albeit sometimes i have to conclude my anecdote with "okay, this wasn't a very good story" or "that sounded better in my head." i love to tell stories of my crazy high school teachers to my students, and because i had some definite crazies, they usually go over pretty well. i suppose this storytelling is cyclical and i'm the crazy who is and will be talked about for years to come. but whatev.

it's funny, actually. i would never act as obnoxiously outside of the classroom. a few weeks ago one of my students asked, "ms, do you hang out with other teachers? because i just can't see you hanging out with, like, adults." i'm like, "yes, teacher. has. friends." but then i started thinking about the singing, the dancing, the facial expressions, the crazy jokes and laughing, the completely nerdy exuberance expressed over historical data... it's almost like i'm two people. i mean, teaching is acting, but i'm not pretending.

so when my principal recommended me to host a student teacher i hesitated and declined. i feel like my classroom needs some fine tuning, i mean, the car runs but it's not a smooth ride. i run my classroom with a special emphasis on relationships and i feel like this can't be emulated, rather, this is a teaching style that must come from the heart. and, let's face it, i don't think i'm worthy of observation and guidance yet. i think i need a few more years under my belt. you know, for some fine tuning.

Monday, October 31, 2005

why we gotta hate people, ms?

i've got the best and the worst in my third period. this class is filled to the brim, and with the personality and energy of my students it's practically boiling over. the good thing about this is that we have lots of "teachable moments" and there is general enthusing at times. the bad aspect is that I'm trying to tame a class of monkeys, monkeys who are enabled by their parents and think of themselves as gods. they are teenagers at their best and worst.
take today for example. we're discussing immigration in the late 1800s. nativism is introduced and someone says something about the kkk. "but ms," another kid asks, "how come they can wear their hats and their sheets? they can't do that. like, how we can't wear gang colors here." ahh, a teachable moment. rules vs. laws and civil liberties are discussed. it's a good moment. then we move on in our discussion of immigration.
"i think they should build a great wall of america. mexicans just need to stay out," a kid pipes up. these kids are espousing racist rhetoric and, once again, conveying the gap between mexican american vs. mexican mexican (to use my student's language). they don't use words like wetback but the sentiment is the same. a conversation ensues between the students about immigration. "how can you hate mexicans when you are one?" "i'm not mexican, i don't know nobody in mexico" "yeah but you used to be a real mexican at one point" until one kid resorts to outright racist rhetoric and i stop the conversation. it's frustrating because my blood is boiling but i'm trying to be a good teacher and let the kids talk it out, hoping someone will learn something about tolerance. i'm trying to use clever guiding questions but after the conversation i feel depressed and frustrated.
anyway, the class is always teetering on "out of control" because they won't stop fucking shouting things out or asking about shit. most of it is filtered but sometimes, and i'm not proud of this, i stop what we're doing and say with a sigh, "alright third period. we're going to stop for one minute to talk about this. because i know you need to get it out and i'd rather just talk about it once and for all." this is what birthed our conversation about immigration. i can't tell if i'm caving in or going with the flow. is my class a mess or just messy?