Tuesday March 17, 1992

St. Patrick's Day

For all the good accomplished in this building, school would be better off closing. There were so few students, and those there wanted to do so little that we had battles all day long. I should have called in sick. We all should have called in sick, it is just not a day for school, at least as things are situated now. Hour 1 made a feeble attempt to go on to Chapter 6. I wasted my and their time with this. Steven and Robert (the dangerous disruptive dynamic duo) used all their best disruptive techniques to ruin my class and their class. Robert and Steven both carry an air of vicious nonchalance that makes me wonder what, if anything, they care about. They are so shallow and vain in class, yet when I deal with them one-on-one they show me they have a brain and feelings. Is it just so uncool to be human?

Another interesting tidbit, Tameitha asked me at 7:15 to leave early to put her uniform on. I told her to do it immediately as there were 15 minutes before class began. She wasn't there when we started (as she usually isn't) and I forgot about her. About 8:05 Mr. Wundermann brought her to class asking if I had given her a pass to get dressed. I told him when she had left, and he hauled her off and brought her back about 8:10. She said she was angry, but ultimately denied she was. At least she recognized her responsibility.

Hour 2 was virtually empty, so we tried to discuss Joe Clark again. What is so cryptic is that they recognize the problems in the school and the solutions he proposed but never move from the specific (that school, that principal, those students) to the general: East High School, themselves and their behavior. It is a problem with everything they do, not just with this exercise. They were at least attentive and responsive (somewhat) though hardly perfect. The distraction level was just too high (who was leaving when to go watch the parade).

Hour 3 had 1 1/2 students. Mark was there and it seemed a bit odd to attempt to teach him alone. Tyrone showed up about 25 minutes late, and said he had planned to go to the parade but his ride failed to show. So he came to class. I was pleased he told the truth and punished him not. However, we chatted and talked about a variety of topics, none related to Orwell or the TAP.

During lunch, Shaunda came to my class (she hates her 4th hour teacher) and we talked about a number of topics interesting to her. She can talk non-stop, and rarely stopped to listen to anything I had to offer. I won't puff myself up and view what we did as a friend or confidante relationship (she can talk to herself without interruption) but it was pleasing to have at least that degree of her of confidence.

Hour 5 could not get settled either. I am beginning to believe many of the critics of self-esteem They wanted a free day since they had come rather than skipping. I refused, but we started talking about foster care (Monica, not recently seen in class due to her ISS was genuinely interested, as well as genuinely interested in avoiding work). They went through the options, the possibilities (as well as why I should adopt all these munchkins) and the repercussions. I had planned a little dictionary work, as on the sample TAP I saw there were about 20 questions about how to find and use things there. We finally got to it, but by then things were so messed up that almost no work was possible. But, surprisingly, I did find that those here today (hardly a random sample) could find the things I wanted them to look for. I know their skills are poor. I know they have low vocabulary skills and even lower comprehension. But when I ask them directly, as I did today, they frequently know what I'm talking about.

Hour 6, ever surprising, was a pleasure. We stayed in the room for a few minutes while I discussed their scavenger hunts and read Matt's paper aloud. I asked what was good about it, and they were quick to see. It had a plot, action, characters and a sequence that was easy to follow. I asked what it needed. They said periods, which was true, pronouns, which was very true, and a little more characterization, which was also quite accurate. I added it needed a little more scene, which it did (we are just plunged into a place without understanding anything about it). But I was pleased both with his writing and their responses. They then went to the lab, where those who have been, did, and those who haven't been, didn't. But I saw some more rough drafts (and some who were disappointed about quitting). All in all, I think this is proving my most successful experiment. I hope they see it as something more than just "not reading". Maybe in spite of themselves, it will be.

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