When will I figure this out? Or is this as good as it gets? I’m not complaining, exactly, but I just thought I’d be able to connect with them a little more. One on one I do, and I like them like that. But en masse…well, maybe it will help if I introduce you to some of them.
First, there is Carlos P. who seems to be a little slow on the uptake when reading is involved, but was quick to notice that Eleanor Roosevelt was less than attractive, and suggested that maybe FDR had married her because he’d gotten her pregnant. I told him I was pretty sure that wasn’t the case, but I don’t think he was convinced.
Holly is a pretty girl who draws little pictures with her handwriting. She is a tireless tattle tale who has a penchant for kicking boys in the shins with very little provocation. During class sometimes.
Then there are the hormonal boys. Alex and Ivan are beautiful funny boys who cannot – I repeat, cannot – hold still for more than about five seconds in a row. They literally squirm around in their chairs all period. Huge smiles, never an attitude problem from either of them, but always a huge distraction to the class. And I can’t talk about hormonal guys without mentioning Salvador, a tall handsome boy who was very quiet at first. I wondered if he knew English at all, and questioned his placement in the Intermediate ELD class he is in. That was until I’d heard his accomplished and appropriate (except totally not appropriate) use of profanity. Oh, and he was the only kid in the class who not only remembered reading “Number the Stars” last year, but remembered what it was about, and even thought to compare it to the Diary of Anne Frank.
Omar and Martin are about four feet tall, and beautiful children. They are happy soccer players who want to be my helpers in everything. Martin is nearly proficient in English I think, and Omar has a long way to go. Although delightful, I’m not sure how to interest him in doing his classwork. He just seems to like to stand by me and smile, eager to help pass things out.
Jose and Maisie stay after class every day to take note of who didn’t push their chairs under the table before they left, and write their names on the board. I think I’m supposed to make those kids be the last ones to leave the next day. Speaking of leaving, I don’t want to forget about Sergius. He is a skinny kid who is so eager to go to lunch each day that he practically knocks over anyone or anything that gets in his way. Holding him to the end of the line one day has no influence on his behavior the next day. Could it be that coming from a family of 16 children, he is accustomed to having to fight to get a bite to eat?
And Thomas. Thomas is a quiet boy who is very smart, was redesignated Fluent English Proficient in 5th grade and is in my class by a mistake, except on a cosmic level, probably not a mistake. He is quiet sometimes to the point of not being able to say a word, yet he always knows the answer. Other teachers have told me that last year, in sixth grade, Thomas was hanging out with the wrong crowd, and began cutting himself. He is evidently an accomplished pianist, as he recently gave a recital in Sacramento. Highly unusual for a child in our school where everyone is very low income, without access to such things as piano lessons. He brings me little paintings on binder paper that say “Best Teacher.” He brought a plate of fried noodles to school one day this week, and sat in my classroom during the morning break and seasoned them. He took so long with the seasoning that he had no time to even take a bite. But the pungent smell of the seasoning set all the other students to gagging, unable to bear being in the room after the bell rang. Fortunately my portable has openable windows, and it passed quickly.
The list continues, as I have a really lot of students, but this taste is probably more than enough. There is definitely potential, but I’m still incapable of accessing it, apparently. I hope it doesn’t take until January for them to calm down or for me to figure it out. I just wonder how those wonderful seventh grade teachers (and I know they are out there) do it. I’m open to suggestions!