raise your hand if you're absent

adventures and misadventures in the life of a first-year teacher

Sunday, February 06, 2005

getting an ed-ja-ma-ca-tion

Things are dragging along at school. The kids have been extremely apathetic lately, and I feel the same way. Now that we’re in the second stretch of the school year, classroom procedures are going a lot more smoothly than they did in the first half of the year, but the students have started to complain about EVERYTHING.

For example, last week I was going to assign a homework assignment in which students would have to write two paragraphs about Thoreau’s ideas of civil disobedience, discussing its relevancy to today. However, because I’m a nice teacher and realize they had vocabulary exercises due and a vocabulary quiz the next day, I decided to give them class time to write the two-paragraph assignment. Here’s a sampling of the responses I received after I explained the assignment:

Student A: Aw, two paragraphs? Can’t we just write one?
Student B: How many sentences total do we have to have?
Student C: Do we have to write about Thoreau or can we just write two paragraphs?
Student D: I don’t want to do this.
Student E: This is stupid.
Student F: Why do we have to write in English class?
Student G: Can’t we just sit here and do nothing instead?
Student H: I want to take a nap.
Student I: Did we learn about Thoreau? Who IS Thoreau?
Student J: Wait, what are we doing? I don’t get it.

And those are my college prep kids. Geez! You’d think I was making them do something extremely horrific and unheard of.

I must say, however, on a lighter note, that my on-level kids have been GOOD lately (knock on wood). I don’t know why. I think maybe they’ve finally gotten into the swing of things regarding how things work in English class. They have actually been INTERESTED in learning, and two kids who had detentions with me last week said, "English is our favorite class." Imagine that!

Oh, and I got a new student in one of my on-level classes, which I usually dread, but he’s been awesome so far. He is such a nice kid. I found out about his home life, though, and it really got me down. I hate hearing those stories. I hope I can at least provide him with a class he likes and help him enjoy school.

My 9th period class has been like a scene out of the movie Dangerous Minds lately:

Student 1: Yo, Miss, this is whack. Why we gotta be learnin’ about pronouns?
Student 2: Because you need this sh*t if you wanna go to college. You need ta have a good ed-ja-ma-cation.

I’m hoping this coming week goes smoothly.

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