Sunday, May 04, 2008


[1] A gaggle of girls in my various classes have decided the whole tío-sobrina shouldn’t die, and we’ve pretty much abandoned using each other’s names at this point. New kid’s struggling with this like you wouldn’t believe, coming up to me and saying: “But… like… you’re not really their tío are you?” I assure him that I am, but he’s still having all kinds of problems with it: “But… like… how is that even possible?” I offer a non-explanation explanation, and he walks away mumbling: “I don’t even think you know what tío means.”

[2] I’ve written more referrals in the past six instructional days (6) than in the previous one thousand forty-three (4).

[3] The other thing with those girls is that they are now getting with guys from my various classes, (Spring has sprung! Spring has sprung!) and are extending the nature of the relationship to that traditional role wherein the familial elder (me, apparently) has to grant some kind of permission before the whole novios thing takes off. So now we’ve got this scenario going where I’m chastising male students for not discussing with me beforehand the nature of their gross adolescent romantic plans. Like I want to hear any of that.

[4] Seriously, I got dumped on last month. HP C is not rocking, because of these four loud girls, one given up kid, but we’re doing okay, and with 23 CST 1s and 2s, I’m holding it down.

Next, the deluge.

Enter, project kid, who I’m trying to rescue and rehabilitate (#24). Enter, two 8th grade girls who should have been in HP C since the beginning of the year, got dumped in the wrong class, and are coming back in to receive the instruction the deserve (#25 and #26). Enter, frequently absent girl with a host of self-described issues; she completes work, but can all attempts to engage in partner and group work (of which there is much this time of year) is an adamant non-starter (#27). Enter, kid who got kicked out of three middle schools in the last 18 months, hung out with us for a few weeks, withdrew, and is now back, without binder, backpack, or any inclination to work (#28). Enter, kid who got kicked out of his continuation school for non-attendance and drug use (#29). Enter, two kids who got moved to a higher level math class and so are making a parallel move into my class, bringing with them a refusal to work, inexplicable crappy attitudes, and just a host of crummy, petty annoyances (#30 and #31).

All this happened over the course of like two weeks. Twenty-three percent of the class is brand new. With the exception of the two returning 8th graders, every kid is a project kid, someone I’d eventually get on my team, given sufficient time and relationship building. We don’t have that time. And I’m tired. And it’s end-game time. And we weren’t doing so hot before. And they all connect with each other in their pursuit of dead-end shittiness, luring two-three other kids out of the boat and into the dark water. Suddenly the room is packed, and instead of struggling with the loud girls and the kid who lives to antagonize, I’m struggling with the loud girls, the kid who lives to antagonize, the redemption project kid, the two kicked-out of everywhere kids, one of the returning 8th graders who can cause problems after her A-quality work is finished, the in-check-but-barely kid who now is just completely lost to us, a calm poor-worker who has decided to up the ante on me, and anyone else who thinks all this crap is more interesting that indirect characterization.

Instead of going into our work with 90 percent of the kids fundamentally down, and I’m at about 60 percent, and you just can’t work like that. I’m cancelling projects and reevaluating end-of-the-year work because we lack the culture and stability to complete anything, trying to find a way to put that other 40 percent in a box that doesn’t look or feel as good as the way the rest of us roll, but there’s just too damn many of them, and too much of the other 60 percent too enamored of the new way of things to make fundamental change.

Six weeks left and I don’t think I can get em back.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you get a chance to really SPEAK @ the conference..
you will blow them all away.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Parentalcation said...

Depressing, especially since I have spent all weekend researching teacher certification programs for after I retire from the Air Force.

Not that it helps, but we have the same dynamic in the military. You get your unit/section performing then a few incoming personnel (and outgoing) change things completely; your back to ground zero.

You know its bad when the 80/20 rule breaks down...

5:44 PM  
Blogger Amerloc said...

Your. Circumstance. Breaks. My. Heart.

Your. Attitude. Renews. My. Soul.

Dude, I know you're getting dumped on, and I'm retired now so I'm not, but that doesn't stop your post from simultaneously breaking my heart at the turds that schools dump on teachers, and reinvigorating the joy I've always felt at the spirit that teachers display in the face of being shat upon.

TMAO, rock on.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure you've already figured this out, but because I just watched something happen on a much smaller scale I want to share it with you.

I was observing a class and about half of the class came in late. The teacher did nothing, other than to say "you're late", to remediate the situation.

You know that you need to drop everything and rebuild this class community. Although time is short you won't get anything else done without doing it and any time you spend doing this will come back to you (and it's not like anything else is going to get done without it).

12:54 PM  
Blogger Jane Nicholls said...

I am a frequent 'lurker' on your blog but wanted to leave a comment because I really enjoy your writing. I get swept up in the story you are telling and then realise your 'story' is real life. Don't give up, if anyone can turn this situation around you can. I heard a talented educator, Lane Clark, say that you need to make your comfort zone so uncomfortable that you can never go back. I think you will find if you try to survive on traditional teaching methods for 6 weeks you will understand this quote fully. Keep doing what you do so well, and keep writing about it so I can be inspired :)

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Mr. K said...

I'm there with you.

My classes this year have had revolving doors on them.

Just about every new kid who comes here after being kicked out of another school ends up in my class.

The kids who show up here because the parents keep pushing the child back and forth between them end up in my class.

I've written way more referrals than I ever thought I would write again.

I've had classes go from outstanding to pure hell and back again. The one class that I thought would struggle all year is outperforming all of the others, simply by virtue of having had the most stable population.

I only hope that I can learn from this...

6:39 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Ya'll are full of some serious compliments. Appreciate.

Anon #2: You're right of course, and I've been doing some of this. The bummer is, all that stuff requires significant time allocations. In September, in October, in January, I know I'm gonna get my money's worth in student achievement and just all around decentness of things. We've got stuff to do now, and almost no time to do it in. How much time can I put into all this stuff and how much is it worth it?

Mr. K: I'm right there with you. The highlight of my day is teaching HP B for two hours after lunch. I can't explain to you how far in the ed world you'd have to travel to find another person who can say that.

7:59 PM  

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