Tuesday, January 11, 2005

real revisited

Today is Tuesday. It surprised me to realize I hadn't written in a week. And I have a lot going on.
First, the exam. Last week I gave the children the exams to put their names on and read and think about and then I picked them up at the end of the period each day. I told them to make notes, highlight highlights of Obama's speech, make connections, outline, ask me questions, talk to each other, anything they wanted, and for the exam day I returned to each student her own marked up test. In other words, they could have gotten the whole thing together in their heads and even written it down. Four did. The rest didn't even look over the literature. I haven't read them all yet, but from what I've read so far there are a lot of low grades. But there are also four essays that Barack Obama needs to read. And I'm going to try to figure out how to get them to him. I'm also going to figure out how to include something from each of them in this blog so you can see what I mean.
THEN, today at the faculty meeting, the principal (in semi-jest) asked how many sentences are in a proper paragraph and the magic number 5 came up from someone in the English department. I actually stood up and said that's not true. It got my blood boiling. I am incensed that children's thinking is limited by such things. RM, one of the four students I mentioned above, wrote a four page essay (tiny writing too) that would take your breath away, making beautiful and original reflections and connections about America and our literature and about Obama's speech (he worked on it for four class periods and revised it extensively). I think I should make a xerox of it and take his name off of it and put it anonymously in five-sentence paragraph's mailbox and ask her to grade it. What's going to happen to him if next semester he gets this teacher for English and is told he must write five paragraph essays consisting of five sentence paragraphs? I have to warn him. But that teacher has been at our school for a long time. The students don't know that what I tell them is true. Also, I imagine that some of them could be suspicious about why I would leave a school like Mandeville High to come to a school like ours.
And now I have this very pressing issue. Our principal gave a beautiful talk about how much negative commentary there is out there and among our students and our faculty about what a bad school we have. She said the hallwalkers and fires and fights are infamous, but that no one knows about the good things that go on. I've been thinking the same thing, and I want to do something about it. Yesterday in the paper there was an article about Woodson Middle School, and I want to tell our story. I am toying with the idea of telling our principal about this blog. I've been afraid she'd think I was being negative, but I don't think I have been at all. I've been just telling it how it is. And I love this school. I love it. And I'm proud of our principal and I think she's a brave and generous woman. But I don't know what to do.
I wanted to say one more thing about RM. This guy comes into class late most days and needs to leave a few minutes early. He just has to have that control over his life, over his education. Whatever. For whatever reason, I just have to let him come and go. When he's in class he does things like writes these exquisite essays. He's the guy I've mentioned in here a couple of times. He's the guy who must keep things real.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melanie -

I wish everyone would read your blog. It is truly inspiring. Your principal? Go with your heart, your teaching comes from your soul and your words ride sidecar.


7:32 PM  

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