I should be planning lessons now. I should be sending my administrator my data on my problem students. I should be writing referrals for undisciplined young ladies who don’t come to my lunch detentions because they think they can get away with what they want because no one has showed them how to respect adults. I should be doing this and that, but my day is too long without substantial time for myself. I am running out of time for myself. When I get home at nine most nights and look at the clock on the stove, I say to myself: only two hours to cook, eat, read a book or watch the yankees, then sleep again. Two hours to yourself a day is not enough. So I am doing this:
More stories from A 215:
- Teacher: “how is the group project going?” Young lady: “So I told my mom, your hair looks fine as it is.” Teacher: “Oh. Does your mother have her hair in a weave?” Young lady: “My mother’s hair is NOT a weave!”
- Fight in the breakfast line. Student knocked out cold. Fifteen students came to my classroom filled with ADHD but no food. They were about to revolt. I turned off the lights and made them read by lamplight to quiet music for 10 minutes.
- I went to send for some pop-tarts. I generously give pop-tarts to students who are working. Most don’t recognize they do not have a right to a pop-tart. One student does no work, demands a pop tart. I don’t give it to him. He stands up and leaves. Another student: “My boy just straight up bounced. Now there’s a man who takes his breakfast to heart.”
- “It is tuesday morning and I am tired. I am tired of teaching books to children who should be learning home-training instead.”
- Young 10th grade woman: “I have to doo doo real bad. Real bad!”
- “She’s got more issues than a magazine.”
- “It’s like the young woman pulled a pin out of a grenade.”
- Young man to me: “I’m about to pop your chicken, cuz.”
- Young woman: “Mr. Jones, let me borrow your pen. I need to pop this.” “Pop what?” Young woman: “This thing on my face.”
- Teacher: “Ma’am what seems to be the problem today?” “My problem is you. I don’t like you and I don’t like your class.”
- Young black woman: “I hate black people. Love me some Caucasians.”
- Teacher: “How do you think that made me feel?” Young woman: “I don’t care about people’s feelings, I don’t care about anybody in this world.”
I had my students write these fables for our creative projects. They spent three weeks on it. The point was that the fables should have a moral of modern street-smarts at the end of it.
Here’s is what one of my male students came up with:
Your Parents Are Not Always Right
“About 20 years ago there was this guy named Joe. He was an exceptionally good looking guy, good at sports and highly intelligent. One bad thing about him was he was not good with the ladies. He tried everything to find a way to talk to this girl he had a crush on since pre-school but nothing worked. So he asked his mom for advice and she said bump into the girl and try to get her to talk to you. So the next day he did and instead of her responding positively like he hoped she would, she punched him in the neck. This goes to show you that parents are not always right.”
Humphry and Elroy
Once upon a time there were two brothers Humprhy and Elroy. Humphry was a very mean little brother he always borrowed money from Elroy without paying back and he would also play tricks on poor Elroy. One day Humphry got into some trouble. Him and his friends were tricking people in the court yard of the castle out of there money with card tricks and the king was riding by and saw what he was doing. So they were about to cut Humphry head off in the guilateen when Elroy screamed noooooooo and told the king that he would give anything if he let his brother go the king.So the king smiled an said anything and Elroy said yes. So the King said your farm or nothing. Elroy said but my farm is all I have the king said the farm or noothiing ,so Elroy gave up his farm. Humphry was set free and when they got home Humphry tried to tell Elroy thank you but Elroy just sighed and told Humphry just don’t talk to me and Humphry said “well f#%& you too then” and walked outside. As soon as he walked outside he was ran over by a horse drawn cairrage.
One thing that I enjoy about inner-city teaching is the sense of mission. There is mission in the sense that these children need adult mentors to look up to. There is mission in the fact that many do not have positive home lives where they are encouraged to reach their full potential. There is even mission in the academics, where we can talk about real life issues like one-parent homes, street smarts and giving people second chances. However, since there is mission in the academics, that means that there is also mission in the test scores.
I will spare you the details: alot of teachers argue over the “No Child Left Behind” bill because it makes teaching all about test scores. There are teachers out there who teach only to the test because, in the end, that is how both their students and they are assessed. Kids pass the test, state board is happy, admin is happy, you keep your job, you’re happy.
This is not education. It is filling a bucket. I won’t ever do that. However, test scores make or break my classroom. So my mission this year is to find a way to improve these students’ scores on the bubble tests (general reading comprehension, analysis, higher level thinking) without compromising my beliefs.
I have about 30 students out of 95 that are failing the bubble tests everytime, and averaging everyone together, my classes are not hitting the benchmark. I have the toughest of the tough in the 10th grade: majorly at risk and a few years behind. To catch them up to speed will take all year. This is a mission that I could possibly fail, but without the risk of failure, there isn’t any sense of mission at all. I signed up for a risky mission, and I have one.
If any friends ever want to come to help tutor my kids, just let me know. I will make sure you get community service points, maybe even a write-off on taxes.