Monday, March 23, 1992

A new week, a new beginning, a new series of frustrations. There is enough to make me crazy while also just enough to keep me sane. I trust that as I mature I will learn to balance more effectively and put the balance in my favor. Can it be?

Hour 1 was another day of manipulating goodies for the TAP. We used the same book of exercises as before, but concentrated on reading comprehension rather than the vocabulary. This is what they will be asked and this is what they will need to know. I did the exercises orally, but they just don't seem able to pay attention for long enough to accomplish much of anything. I feel frustrated at the inability. Do they want me to hand out sheets and have them fill them in? If we do it orally we can discuss (or I can tell them) strategies for finding the correct answer in the mass of confusion. I tried to show them context clues, root word clues and prefix clues, building on the thing we've done already. But they are unresponsive and just plain bored. I can't imagine what we'll do tomorrow.

Hour 2 was the same but more. They are irritated when I ask them to work and exasperated when I try to get their attention. I tried to reward them in an unexpected way, at one point I asked if anyone was listening and 1 person replied. I gave her a pack of gum. Jewel scoffed at such a meager reward, David was eager for his. He pleaded. I will give him the opportunity to earn it, but I will not give it to him. I was embarrassed by how desperate he was for such a small reward. I hope he is willing to try again so he can earn it. Other than that, a replica of the earlier class.

Hour 3 was observation day. I had told them we would write a letter to Mr. Wundermann, and today we brainstormed about 35 ideas of what we needed to mention and then figured out a way to put them in order. It was neat the way the whole thing came together. They had a mass of information that looked unmanageable; they placed it in a coherent and efficient order in about 25 minutes. They were not as interested as they often are, Mark of course dozed off and Tyrone had been in a fight and was nursing a swollen face. Coryanna was her usual smiling silent self and Kerri, for whatever reason, just had no desire to help me. But I dragged it out of them, and they came around. It worked comparatively well, and they saw (if not learned) the lesson I was attempting to convey.

Hour 5 also worked on oral comprehension, but they were bored and sullen. Rodman is challenging in an open and direct way, and I am eager for him to go away. Of all my students he is the most exasperating, for he is bright but determined to hide his light under a basket. He sits with that smug grin awaiting my next explosion as I sigh or moan or exclaim. He is winning and he knows it; I am just trying to get out alive.

Hour 6 was a mess today, for half went to the computer lab (with me) and half stayed behind with Mrs. Korman to watch 40 minutes of "Boyz and the Hood", a movie I would like to view, but under different circumstances. The ones with me crept ever closer to the goal, and some are even accomplishing something, but they don't really have a crisp idea of what I'm looking for. I didn't have time or inclination to argue with those who stayed behind. Joseph, whose paper is looking more and more woebegone, is losing heart. (He thinks he can attend Grambling this fall, I hope he can't.) But to demonstrate the situation he (they???) are in, I told them about a summer intern program offered through various universities that Mrs. Samples had info on. He asked, in a very quiet voice, if it were free. I told him yes, and he then seemed interested, but I was struck by, for him at least, the very impossibility of pursuing something that cost money. Inequality marches on. Earl also made an interesting comment; he said that a recruiter had been talking to him and discussing different majors and gently steering him away from accounting or business because it would take too much time and he wouldn't be able to devote as much time to sports as he would like.

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