Wednesday, March 18, 1992

Each day holds an unanticipated surprise and an unwelcome irritation. Each day holds as well both keys to my future and a way in which I can make that future better. Each day has all I need to make it better and more than I can bear that makes it intolerable.

I spent much of last night working on new plans for today and then began first hour came in and shot them all to hell, as my father would so picturesquely put it. We wanted to do a very simple lesson on prefixes. I put 35 common prefixes on the board, without telling them what I was doing or why. They knew that they were prefixes, but I asked them if they knew what any of them meant and they were their usual uncooperative and hostile selves. They did not want to work with me today and though we struggled through the lesson, I had to pull teeth to get it. We did them one at a time and I asked for words that had the prefixes in them, but they were either ignorant or directly rebellious.

Hour 2, with the same lesson and the same prefixes whipped through them. They liked them and worked hard, and Joyce, usually asleep or silent, came up with several excellent examples of words using the prefixes. I tried to stress how you attack an unfamiliar word, using the prefix to find at least a clue to what the word means. Monday I will work on specifics, trying to give them some words they won't know but could be figured out by the prefix and the root word. They were eager and responsive and I think they may have learned a few new prefixes. I was thrilled, and they were too. Success?

Hour 3 had only 3 students today, and we tried to get to prefixes but they had frustration on their mind. We spoke of the problems with the school, and what could be done to alleviate it. They have worksheet dispensers who do not even collect the sheets they hand out. What a waste of life. No student should have to endure such disrespectful and irresponsible teaching. More than one teacher too, which is the frightening thing. They have bad teachers everywhere, and a principal they never see. They want leadership and interest, and they were very complimentary to me as a person who tries to teach them and tries to listen to them. They were clear that there is something they want, and they are feeling cheated by not getting it. I will do everything I can to help them get it. It is gratifying they recognize their deficiencies and are willing to do something about it. It takes that first step before anything else is possible.

Hour 5 was 50% quality and 50% junk. Some could handle and even be interested in what I was doing, and I was glad that they did respond. But the slugs, dragging us back at every step, managed to stop much more than they encourage. Onward they went. Doing their best to drag us down. There are times when I wish I could just get it over with, as they are too smart to need me. If I had them for the whole year could we get what I want? I better, or else...

Hour 6 was in the lab, and they began to deteriorate. They did not accomplish very much (not all, but many). They fooled and goofed and did very little. I will watch to verify that they make it worthwhile for both themselves and me. But I am generally happy, as they are actually composing and adding to that composition. Some of the less responsive guys are really going to town, if they were only there daily things could really get going.

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