Monday, November 29, 2004

glad to be back

Monday evening.
The romantic attitude I exhibited in the last blog came close to being dashed today, but I hung onto it anyway. A couple of thugs hanging around my classroom got threatening with me when I told them to scram. In retrospect I remember that there are some people at this school who are as dangerous as they come anywhere in the world, people who kill and are killed, people we read about in the paper all the time. 9th ward boys. But, feeling all full of love for my students, I got cocky and a little bit stupid. But I'm also getting over the top sick of the ignorance of these kinds of fools. The halls are getting cleaned up and the kids are getting a chance to take themselves seriously, and then these boys, absolutely up to no good, hang around my door. It's hard for me anymore to make myself back off.
Also, first thing this morning, before first period even got a good start, there was a fight on the third floor. A girl I only know from the halls, but we've taken to each other, came to my class limping and almost crying (you almost never see crying at my school), because she'd been standing outside the door of an absent teacher when the fight started and the crowds surged and knocked her against something in the wall and she hurt her leg. I was livid. I still am. The office tried to telephone her mother, but her mother was at the moment at the doctor with the girl's baby, and couldn't be reached, so the office said oh well. So she came to my room looking for a phone. So I went across the hall to that wonderful teacher I've talked about (the one in charge of the hall) and she let the girl use her telephone and the thing got handled. The girl was so angry about the stupidity of the people fighting. I tell you, those kids hate it as much as I do.
I told my students today about how I realized we were almost done with each other, and most of them didn't exhibit the same feelings I was feeling. But I know them. I know they're not cold to it.
I bubbled grades in today and got creative. The girl who was such a problem a few weeks ago, the one who got suspended on my account, has a solid f for the third quarter in a row, but I changed her grade to d and told her so, and told her I'd help her make a b next quarter so she could pass and she said okay. It was a serious and important moment.
Also today I implemented a project in my class that my cohort and friend, Lynne, developed. Her wish is to have her students respond to my students, and so my students had to answer a bunch of questions and DRAW THEIR HANDS ON A PIECE OF PAPER. Believe me, I was nervous about bringing that part of it up. I saved it for after I thought they might care that someone somewhere in the country, some kids in a country school, were about to learn something about the city. (Now that I think of it, I wish I had had my students write more of a narrative to send to them.) But my students did it, they answered the questions, they drew their hands, and they meant what they did. I love these people for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons is that they are not cynical. Yes they have a lot of reason to be, but they're not. There's such a purity of spirit. I will attempt to explain this as time goes on. But not tonight. Because tonight I need a couple of hours to think everything through and make these coming three weeks be all that these precious humans in my care deserve.

Melanie

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