Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 02 2012

One of those days…

OK, so today was the proverbial roller coaster of awesome and awful. In points to speed along:

  1. Start the day with my kids NOT LISTENING at all. As in, I explain something, or I give directions, or I remind them for the umpteenth time that Napoleon (who shows up in our story about Egypt…long story) was a French war hero who won lots of battles, and ten seconds later, “Wait, who’s Napoleon?” UGH. Repeating yourself gets old.
  2. Continue the day with them NOT UNDERSTANDING MAPS. OK, this is not their fault and isn’t bad-kid behavior, but it’s still super frustrating. Over and over we go over the sentence frame, “Austin is ______________ of Houston,” and how to fill in the direction (north, southeast, etc.). Over and over and over. Still they do it backwards. Over and over and over. See #1 about how much they were listening to my explanations.
  3. Progress to Math where they ROCK at measurement, completely unexpectedly. They do fine with my interactive fun team activity, keep it together to consider types of measurement, and then are adorably, inexplicably in love with GallonBot, who is a modern, “grown-up 4th grade” version of their 3rd grade friend, Mr. Gallonman. Plus they know how to use him to convert units of capacity, which is the whole point. We weren’t even supposed to get to him until tomorrow, so go kids for moving quick.
  4. Lunch Bunch with 5 of my kids is cute and hilarious in a truly funny way, not even an I’m-laughing-because-you’re-9-and-think-it’s-funny way. I remember that I really do love my kids. And I notice with pleasure that their ability to express what they mean in full sentences is growing.
  5. Going over yesterday’s math test is only helpful if they listen to what I’m explaining. Which, as per #1, they do not. Sigh.
  6. Health Break (i.e. Recess for the diabetes-prone). All heck breaks loose. The other 2 4th grade teachers are at a training for the afternoon, so their kids are all nuts because they have subs. One of my kids loses his recess tomorrow for being a punk about kickball (cutting, making fun of kids). This kid, who used to be in my class but was moved for behavior reasons, kicks the ball away instead of bringing it in when it’s time (also may or may not have been aiming at my head…) and then is hugely disrespectful when I talk to him about it.
  7. Reading Group. One of my kids may or may not have stolen a fancy pencil from another kid’s desk. He denies it after much questioning, and the only witness I have is one of my kids who is a notorious liar. Great. Also I learn later this kid, who’s really a good kid, has recently been talking a lot about gangs and ICP (Insane Clown Posse, this band that’s popular with kids here, who sings a lot about murdering people with machetes. Charming) and was found with an iPhone and cash despite not being able to afford that.
  8.  Writing Time. During a brainstorm conversation about whether it is better to seek glory or knowledge (our next writing prompt), this kid, who at the beginning of the year was practically nonverbal, raises her hand in something other than Math (and that doesn’t happen often either) for literally THE FIRST TIME ALL YEAR. She VOLUNTEERED to speak!!!!! I was so incredibly excited I almost did a little happy dance in the middle of class.
  9. End of the Day. As I’m meeting with kids for 30 seconds each to go over report cards, one of my boys decides to take the stapler from the back table, open it, and use it as a gun to shoot staples at other students. Later I learn from someone who subbed for me that last week he made a sharp paper dagger and drew blood on it. Then he lies to me and tells me he was stapling a paper, when I saw him with my own eyes. I am so incredibly furious at him, because he knows better and because this behavior is so completely and totally unacceptable, that I can’t even talk to him.
  10. My girls basketball team goes to our first tournament. The girls play FANTASTICALLY. They listen, they play a zone defense, they fight for rebounds. They are awesome. And I remember why I coach basketball: even though it takes so much time, even though I really don’t have that time to  spend, I love it. It makes me happy when the rest of the day made me insane.

2 Responses

  1. Philip Kovacs

    i loved reading this post b/c it reminded me of my time in the classroom and the balloons seem appropriate at the top of the page. i’m pretty critical of the prep you all get before you go in, and i want to be clear this is an issue with leadership and not membership (how often is that the case?!?!?) but in the state of alabama, if a student does something like makes a paper knife and puts blood on it or shoots other kids with staples we have to report it to a counselor b/c it might be that these are signs of aggression that could lead to escalation and real injury and, oh yeah, if someone found out that these events happened in the past and no one reported them, that no one would be sued. so please do your students, school, self, the child, a favor and have him talk to someone about the behavior…and keep at it, despite my larger critique of the organization i know there are a thousand YOUs out there making a difference…

  2. MeghanK

    Did you know that ICP is a secretly Christian band? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insane_Clown_Posse#Spirituality
    You ought to tell him about it; it’ll either turn him off the band, or…. I don’t know. But it turned my brother off the band!

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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