Oh my. Back to school today, after a three day weekend, and what a long day it was. The kids are all but catatonic, or at least in the morning they were. By fourth period things picked up, as usual.
My first period Spanish class rolled by without incident. Everyone got a grade check. Ho hum. No one seemed to care much. One kid turned something in, but that was it. It didn’t seem to matter to anyone that their grade was not all they’d like it to be.
Second period was when things got moving a little bit. I gave everyone their graded work and their grade checks. Not a soul asked if he could turn in anything late. One kid showed me a huge pile of work and said “Look at all this.” I asked if it was done and he said “No.” And then he just sat there. Didn’t do one bit of it. The class has huge History and Science projects that are both due on Friday, so I said they could work on them. Last week I’d spent time explaining in detail how to do the History project, and everyone who plans to do it got to work on it.
Did you notice what I said there? “Everyone who plans to do it.” Yes. Not everyone has any intention of doing either project. Those kids, the non-doers, just sat there, hands folded, not making much noise. They just patiently waited for the time to pass. In this class, only about eight out of twenty-one students have a GPA over 2.0. This means they will not cross the stage at promotion unless someone works a deal for them at the last minute, and believe me there are a few that are waiting for that deal. What they don’t seem to get is they will have to actually do something to get it. Sitting quietly in one’s seat won’t be enough.
After breakfast break, the high maintenance girl who carries two backpacks came to me and said that one of her backpacks was missing. It wasn’t on the floor by her table where she’d left it. I calmly announced to the class that no one would be going to fourth period until the backpack showed up. A minute later I saw it in the front of the class, by my work station. I gave it back to her and told her to get back to work. Within a couple of minutes she was standing at my desk, and she said, in an imperious voice, “Tomorrow will you try to take better care of my stuff?” I explained, almost calmly, that I would not. I told her the room was locked at break and no students were in there. Someone just picked it up and moved it as they walked in. She had it back. I told her she’d have to look after it herself if that wasn’t good enough.
I roamed the room for a while, checking on people. One girl wore a bandaid on her upper lip for some reason. She kept taking it off an on, and there was no boo boo under it. I don’t know if it was an attempt at exfoliation of a few mustache hairs or what, but it was a little off-putting to try to carry on a conversation with her with that bandaid on and off her lip.
Finally the period ended and it was time for Sweet Basil and Mikey and the gang. The seventh graders. Those who are having sex ed this week. Oh yeah. Students always come in with questions for me about that. They often ask what ‘sexual intercourse’ is, because they learned the word in science class but not what it means. So then it falls on me, their ELD teacher to explain it to them. But not today. Today they just wanted to know at what age they can do it. “Can fourteen year-olds do it?” I talked about the deep emotional involvement, and the chance of babies and said that while it is possible to “do it” at fourteen, it really is better to wait until they are mature enough for the relationship that goes along with it. Bla bla bla. Mikey just rubbed his hands together and said “Condon! No babies with a condon!!” (Spanish for condom) The conversation devolved from there and I changed the subject. Enough of that. I guess we’re going to study spiders next.
And we still have three more weeks. It can only get better from here, right?