Thursday, September 13, 2007

"This is soooo ghetto..."

Everything with these kids is "ghetto" or "gay." A friend told me on the phone today that I should have an activity in which they actually have to discover new adjectives that actually do something crazy - describe the object about which they are speaking! Handouts are not ghetto. Overheads are not gay. Geeze.

I also managed to steer clear of the overhead pens today. Yesterday, I came home up to my elbows in ink, and because I nervously touch my neck when I teach, I had blue smudges all around my hairline. Only minorly embarrassing...

School was pretty routine today. Some of my ESOL kids are getting excited about the letters to Senator Hatch they are currently drafting. I showed them how to create an appropriate heading for a business letter. They were so excited by how professional their letters looked once they changed the font from size 18 Curly to standard size 12 Times New Roman and slapped a few addresses and the date at the top. Amazing. My mom-student's letter is quite good. She is so proud of her work, which makes me want to burst. That's one of the most satisfying feelings I have ever experienced. Weird thing of the day: some of my kids freaked out when their letters overflowed to a second page. Somehow they had it in their heads that a letter should only be a page long. Oh, the panicked margin adjusting I saw today... I think psychologically it worries them that they're actually creating something substantial. It makes them more accountable for what they write, I think.

A note about Containment: I learned the other day that students are only put in Containment after fair warning, and can work their way out with good behavior. The school has students from a girls' home and a boys' home. Those kids and Containment kids have a special lunch so they can't interact with other students. The isolation is really unpleasant for them, so most of the students in Containment want to work well so they can be with their friends again. That's probably what makes that class one of Shule's easiest to deal with, surprisingly. Today was no exception. Incidentally, the boy that was sort of checking me out yesterday went to court after school, and rumor has it that he's in jail now. So maybe that won't be an issue anymore...

Third period was hard again, as usual. The whiny girl sets off the rest of the class like a spark and... The analogy escapes me. Anyway, she is seriously getting under my skin, in a bad way. Shule, bless her, has a hard time being disciplinarian in that class because there are a lot of demands on her attention. Whiny Girl was painting her nails during class, and Shule had a hard time following up with her about putting away the bottle of polish. I didn't want to disrepect Shule's control (because I generally sit back in that class and observe), but I seriously wanted to give that girl a piece of my mind. For a lot of students, they just want to do their thing for their own purposes; getting caught is an unfortunate hazard of that. Whiny Girl, however, wants to cause a scene. Well, if it's a scene she wants...

And fourth period... My class! Again, today was a great day. I'm really lucky, they are a great group of kids. Plus, freshmen still have a spark of innocence in them and actually thrive with praise. Some of the older kids here wouldn't bat an eyelash if you cut them a check for $5k right then and there. I got all their names today, too, which made for better inclusion and more responsive kids. I feel like they are starting to trust me. It goes both ways, they tested me a bit more today, but they also got into group work much more enthusiastically. They love showing me how they can problem solve and how detail-oriented they can be without being told to be. One girl with Cleopatra eye make-up got her whole group to box up this part of the paragraph, and underline that part, and circle errors... Who is this child?!? The great thing about a school setting such as this is that these kids get a chance to be leaders in ways that were never an option for them in their mainstream schools. One of my brightest and most motivated ESOL kids told me this morning that he's running for Student Council here. His face was GLOWING! Here he is truly among his peers, and he stands a shot at actually feeling the rush of participating in change and in earning the respect of other people.

Spark in a tinderbox. Is that the analogy?

No school tomorrow, because of teacher in-service, which means I can sleep in tomorrow. Yay!

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