Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pandamonium and publication.

Well, I survived yesterday without Shule just fine. I'm not sure about her sub, though.

I taught ESOL first period. The kids were pretty ornery. Oh well, water under the bridge. We got through it.

Containment was exceptionally good. I gave most of them the full 10 participation points for the day. A couple of guys fell asleep, so... No dice, kids. That class only has two girls in it. One regularly doesn't show, but the last one hasn't been coming the last few days either, so I hope she didn't drop out. Also, I learned a new drug term the other day, specifically, the term "420," and was tickled (if I'm allowed to be?) to see that a student had it emblazoned proudly on his right wrist, like a fake tattoo watch. Hopefully my class is not 4:20 time...

Third period, normally the harriest part of the morning, behaved themselves too. I had a nice chat with the sub, a first-timer fresh off an LDS mission. Green in so many ways, but pleasant nonetheless. If only he knew what was in store for him.

I offered him fourth period as a test run for the rest of the day. I had already modeled the lesson in second period, and I knew that my fourth period kids would behave for him. They did, and he was actually quite charming and had them eating out of his hand! I was kind of jealous. Here I am, with a passion and drive to teach, and Joe California shows up and knocks one out of the park! I felt better about bailing at lunch, though, knowing that he could handle these kids. At least, that's what I thought.

I looked over his notes on the attendance for the last 3 classes. I knew fifth was a big class, and prone to acting up, but it went alright from his brief notes. Sixth is small and decently manageable. Seventh though... Oi vey. Seventh period, a paper fight broke out, and the black button was pushed. The black button, you ask? A feature of the classroom I had failed to notice before, apparently. When kids get really out of hand, you can push a panic button of sorts and have reinforcements at your door in mere seconds. Incredible. I guess kids started jumping on each other, and so Sub had to call for back-up. Poor guy. That was probably the worst $50 he's ever made. Welcome to education.

Today was pretty normal, but a few things stick out that I want to mention. One of Shule's students from last year was hanging around her room before the bell yesterday, looking for someone to listen to her poem. Shule was trying to finish her lesson plans before heading out to a training meeting, so this student was passed on to me. Poet read me a rather angsty piece about her boyfriend, who moved north and avoids her calls now. Quite a lengthy composition, a sheet of lined paper, double sided. No recognizable trace of meter, no rhyme scheme. She did use the word "inscrutable" though, which does merit a nod. Still, I was so pleased that she had found a way to express herself constructively, instead of, as she put it, "tracking him down and screaming, and probably breaking something in the process." Too true. She then showed me the rest of her binder, about 300 handwritten pages of a novel. Already 28 chapters! I say this rather cheekily, but I really am impressed with her dedication. Apparently she has already finished another novel. Think Tolkienian scope of a new world and language system(s), with a dash of her own personal love life (strictly autobiographical), in another galaxy, with Leonardo DaVinci as the mentor figure, under the watchful tutelage of a tenth-grade editor, and voila! The novel. She's planning on mailing it to a publishing company in New York. I hope the rejection process doesn't discourage her too much. She did seem aware of the competition and the high standards of the industry. I just hope they go easy on her.

It got me thinking, though, about helping some students start up a literary magazine. My sister and I were involved with our high school's literary magazine back east, and loved our time listening to and voting on student submissions. Just knowing that some of these kids are writing and don't have a forum in which to share it kills the part of me that's seeking some unrealistic measure of justice. I might not even be in Provo after December, though, and I wonder how fair it is to start something in these students' lives that may be taken away from them so soon, not unlike other arenas of their lives. Still, if I could recruit a teacher to oversee the group, and teach them how to pass judgment fairly on others' writings... It could really be something productive and cathartic. Then again, I don't know how the school does clubs, if they do at all. The curse of dreaming big...

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