Monday, September 27, 2004


October 18 the leap will be administered in my school. Today I surveyed my students and about 75% of them still need to take the English part of it. So I'm concentrating on the essay and on proofreading. For the few who don't need remediation in things like the forms of "to be" or plurals or possessives, I decided to include for them a novel, for which they will be responsible and tested on. I gave one student, the infamous S in first period, Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. As students show me that they don't need as much remediation as others, I'll give them extra things to read while the others of us slosh through.
The day was good. First period a cadre of somebodies came into my class to observe me and mine. Two were in fuscia. They stood outside the circle of desks, even though I invited them in, (I wish observers would involve themselves rather than sit outside and ogle) and took notes. They looked around my room, asked for my class records, and asked for my lesson plans (I had JUST finished writing Monday through Wednesday when the first period bell rang). We're supposed to have something called a "do now" on the board each day, which I didn't have. But there's so much on my boards, perhaps they didn't notice what was missing. Most fortunate is that above my board, in broad view, is the "Big Brother Is Watching You" poster Jessica B brought me from Disneyworld during the senior trip last year. It's, fortunately, pretty daunting.
I also found out that I'm considered to be probationary at this point because I'm brand new in Orleans. I don't have tenure.
Today when I stepped outside at lunch there was a boy crying, wiping his swolen nose with a bloody undershirt. He'd been jumped by somebody and got thrown out of school, probably because how could the actual facts of any altercation be discerned. It's always so muddy. But he was out there with red teary eyes waiting for someone. I don't know the boy. He told me he was waiting for his brother. He kept turning away from me toward something unseen, trying to step into his outrage I'd say, but he was stymied by something. Probably his sorrow. Probably his humanness. It was so sad. I fear what this might lead to. I can see he's not intrinsically inclined toward violence, but I fear what he will feel forced to do.
The teacher who had her wig pulled off is not in chemo, I found out today. She is not coming to school because she feels she has been hurt by a student, and it is grounds to stay home. She came in today to fill out some paperwork. Most of me is appalled by this exploitation of a situation, but something in me also understands. She has to find a way to feel acknowledged by the system, and if it won't rise up in outrage against a kid who would do such a despicable thing, she has to find her own way to make herself believe that she's valued. So she's out, on full pay, until who knows when. I guess until she can't anymore. Or until someone acknowledges her insult.

Disposed of: a bicycle.

Melanie Anne Plesh


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melanie, Lynne V. told me about your blog. It's a blessing that she did. Reading your struggles, which are each teacher's struggles, was like a revival meeting for me. It's great to be reminded of the open-hearted humanness we must demonstrate when approaching and changing students. And it made me glad that I'm teaching Appalachian middle schoolers.Thanks for baring your soul and lifting your voice. -Amy G. (Morehead Writing Project; Morehead, KY)

6:47 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I guess you have to have a sense of humor if you want to continue in this business (craft, art, religion, science?) of teaching. Ok, so in the space of a couple of days, the administrators in fuschia suits come to observe, a ceiling fan falls on a student, a kid throws a bottle at you hard but intended to miss, and you read Civil Disobediance with your class. Makes me want to go hmmmm.

I think I'm most scared by the folks in the suits. Really. You'll have to tell us what they think they saw. I guess in a world where ceiling fans are falling and kids are getting beaten up then kicked out without understanding, all you can really look for is trivia: the "board work" and lesson plans and posters and such.

I'd like to hear more about the whole observation thing.

It sounds like your perspective is shifting a bit, that you are growing more accustomed (in a good way) to this world you're in at Douglass.


4:34 PM  
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7:26 PM  

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