Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back from prison? And the football incident.

It's another week of interning wonders! I am especially wiped out today, so this will be brief.

Our ESOL kids are so darn smart. They learned the word "boycott" today, and my afro-coiffed student (although it is freshly braided to the crown of his head) said, "Boycott... Like you mean with the lead stuff from China?" He reads the news?!? I had to hear about that from my mom, and here was this kid who had actually picked up a newspaper or hovered on a news station long enough to get the gist of what was going on. Score one for the educational system! The class then proceeded to work in groups, discussing various ways boycott might be used in a sentence. When they reconvened to present to the class, almost everyone started off on a tirade against "whites" and the foolishness of those dumb and lazy white people who don't want to work, but want to deport their workers back to Central and South America. Now, I understand that these students have faced a lot of racism in their lives, far more than I have ever dealt with or will have to deal with. However, I spend a lot of time and energy helping to break down stereotypes against Latinos/as, and it's a little hurtful to hear my own race so tidily belittled and scoffed at. I'm not really sure how to deal with it. I kept my mouth shut in class. Shule tried to brush it off, saying things like, "That's not true..." but the kids were rather vocal. I felt hurt. It cuts both ways, people. Today was my most disappointing first period thus far.

Containment was same old. My flirty friend is back. I don't think he actually went to prison, but the kids sure thought it was great that a classmate might be in the slammer. He was not so bold today. He only said "thank you" to me when I brought him the reading chart he missed last week. So something happened. I'm having a hard time staying emotionally detached from the students. I worry about them all, and some are clearly having a harder time getting by financially and emotionally than others. So I hope my alleged jailbird didn't have too rough of a weekend.

No third period today because Tuesdays are shorter days for teacher in-service. Woo-hoo!

And last but not least, my beloved fourth period freshmen. I graded their paragraphs they wrote last week for a school-mandated prompt. The paragraphs are graded on a 1 to 4 scale, with 4 being exceptional. A 3 is a school-wide goal for our students. The school assumes they will hit about a 2 on their first shot, and many students will get a 1 if they don't really try at all. Well, I taught my kids exactly what they would need to do to get a 3, and though that felt odd at first and I wanted to "teach to the 4!" I knew I had to be realistic. Well, I had to give my whole class 2s, and I gave them good reasons for the scores they received, so the revisions should turn out really well. Anyway, one lone student, a shy girl from the left corner of the class, wrote a solid 3 paragraph. I was so proud! I asked her if she would read it to the class, but she said she would prefer if I just read it. I did, and her neighbors figured out that it was hers and made a fuss. To see her straighten up and look proud, if a little sheepish, was awesome. I wish all of my students could feel like that every day. I try to make them feel like they can do anything if they try hard enough, but sometimes I feel spread so thin that I worry I'm not reaching them all. And I only really have one class! Still, they're "mine," and I hope I don't lose their interest over the next couple of weeks...

No Shule tomorrow, so it's me and the sub to keep everyone in line! I'm terrified, but Shule emailed me the lesson plan, so hopefully nothing too catastrophic shall pass between 7:30 and 11:30 tomorrow morning.

Oh, the football incident. I almost forgot. Because Tuesdays are shorter, I also saw Shule's fifth and sixth period classes today. I can't remember which class, but one of the boys had a football and was hucking it to another kid a few seats behind him. I went over and asked him his name. "Juan." Conveniently, after I had called him Juan 17 times, I learned his real name, which was not Juan. Anyway, regardless of his name, I asked him to put the football in his backpack. He responded, "It doesn't fit." I said, "Then give it to me." Aaaand blank stares. Okay. I tried again with his two options. Stares. Hmm...Some teenagers are just indiscriminately mean. I certainly didn't want to stand there hovering over a football, calling a kid by someone else's name, looking like an inept idiot. I feel like I'm reliving eighth grade... Ouch. :(

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