Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I keep teaching, reason #2

…. My 9th grade class is getting better.  There used to be about 6 or 7 students that wouldn’t even let me teach.  After two dozen notes home, half a dozen emails and one phone call, all but 1 are turning around.  No, they’re not perfect, and we still have some really bad days.  But they are visibly trying to be better.  All but the one will actually apologize to me when I look at them and ask “can I teach my class now?”

…. Today I noticed an amazing shift in the thinking of one, previously, troubling student, we’ll call him Jimmy.  The single most troubling student, we’ll call him George, was being his usual obnoxious self.  Made a comment about how he just hates being told what to do.  I tried a little lesson and started talking about how everyone has to take orders from somebody, even teachers like myself.  The principal, vice-principal, district, legislature.  He says, oh but I don’t have to take those orders. My response was that I don’t have to any more than he has to take my orders, but there are consequences if we don’t.  I have to follow orders if I don’t want to end up homeless sleeping under the viaduct, he has to if he doesn’t want to end up in court.  Yeah, that went on to deaf ears, he was arguing with me before I even got done with the sentence, so I just said, fine, we’re done with this conversation and went on with what we were doing before.

…. Anyway, back to the point of the story.  Near the end of the class period, Jimmy got fed up with George’s behavior and from the front of the room told George in the back of the room to shut up and show the teacher a little respect.  George responded but asking Jimmy why the f--- should he have to respect the teacher.  I was already at my desk sending in a referral for George, so I just listened in to see where this went.  It boiled down to this: Jimmy told George that he should respect the teacher because he’s an adult, he’s the teacher and he just wants to f---in’ teach us.  He also told George that he was a selfish little a----le and that he should just shut up and let the teacher teach.

…. Maybe I should have put and end to the swearing sooner.  But it lasted merely a couple minutes before the bell rang, and I didn’t really want to reprimand Jimmy for swearing when he was saying something to George that actually may make a difference when coming for one of his friends.

…. Jimmy and one of the other students who has shown a huge improvement since I called his mom, stuck around for a little bit after class and I thanked Jimmy for his comments, mentioned that he could have said them without the “f” word, and congratulated them both on their improved behavior over the last couple of weeks. 

…. All in all, it was a good day.



A Paperback Writer said...

I agree. Letting the kid tell off the other one was worth a couple of "inappropriate" words.

Max said...

Thanks, it's good to hear (or read) someone else say it.

A Paperback Writer said...

I would've done it. You're good.