Lesson learned. No letting students filter in from other classes. Although, granted, my dream would be to host them all and have a ball. It is so hard to say no, you know?
But today, when a student asked, CAN I BE IN YOUR CLASS NEXT PERIOD, my response remained no.
Moving on, there was another lesson I learned yesterday and applied today: at the start of each class I drew a circle on the board. If you would like to sit this class out, I said, or work on your math homework, or do some reading, then please (I draw a line down the middle) go to this half of the room. If, on the other hand, you want to join me in a lesson, learn a few new things, and play together (I shade in the other half of the circle) then please sit on this side of the room.
The students looked at one another. Some shrugged their shoulders. Others stared at me with glazed eyes. We want to join you! they shouted.
Good. And the class commenced.
. . .
Boom, boom, boom.
Today rolled by like an assembly of tanks, period after period, each one a textbook case of stellar classroom management.
Objectives met, targets acquired.
And yet one thing caught my attention today, an expression, on most of the student’s faces.
I multiple classes, too: while we stood to form a circle, doing the day’s ice breaker, I would inquire, Please describe your day in one word.
I don’t know . . . boring.
Shaking my head, I would pinch the bridge of my nose, where my mask meets my glasses and fogs up my view. Meanwhile, overhead, the cool (too cool) air from the machine overhead froze the mucus at the tips of our nose. Overcast weather vibed outside. Sneakers in the hall squeaked. And I locked sight, one by one, with each student.
All of y’all bored today?
Show me. That threw them off. Show me, I repeat.
Someone arched their brow. Another waited for an explanation.
Show me what bored looks like, with your face, I said.
The first student let loose his limbs. We laugh. Another student tapped his foot. Yet another threw his arms up in the air.
Every time, the student making a face beamed with boredom. And every time, I asked the circle to imitate the previous student’s face. It was gold.
But still, when the class filed out, and passing period came, or when I got out my journal to reflect, I couldn’t help but wonder: was I that bored at school too? Omg, to quote a student, yes, yes I was.
. . .
Remembering this quaint truth today (while also avoiding today’s taboo words and expressions, based on Ms Steinemann’s book) I’m struck by how bored I was in school. Were my teachers in MS that bad? Or was I? Sincerely, I wasn’t that bad in MS, was I? Certainly, I don’t consider myself a bad teacher, but could I do better?
Let my vanity inflame, my cockiness flare, my self-assurance guide me . . . yes, I do believe I’ve got this. Students rush up to me between classes, hands clasped, praying, begging to let me teach them this next period. As mentioned, today I started telling em NO since they’ve lost (big word coming up) credibility with me. (“What’s credibility?” they ask. “You weren’t paying attention yesterday!” I respond.) Anyway.
Maybe, I wonder, maybe school is supposed to be boring. Maybe it’s supposed to crush your soul. Children would rather play outside. Make a dollar selling candy. Kiss behind closed doors. Play video games. Steal trading cards. Pick their nose. Sleep inside warm bed sheets. Hit their little sibling. Anything but lay their butts down on a cold ceramic chair, constricted, besieged by useful or useless information.
Yet the schools, the district, my colleagues, heck, everybody else is on the grind. We are all on the grind. On the clock. We know what it’s like to face the music, to line up at the gallows, to put out a fire under our asses. We know. Yet these “kids,” as too many adults call them — No, they don’t know.
Whereas elementary is when you learn to cross your fingers in their air when you want to use the restroom; perhaps middle school is where you are mashed into a fine grain ingredient, ready to be sprinkled on someone else’s dish . . .
What am I writing. Just thoughts. Just ideas. But let me finish with this: I don’t mean to crush anybody’s spirit into kosher salt. However if my few years over these students can provide them with a shred (just a thin, pithy shred) of life advice, then by golly Imma dish it out like Tuesday’s cafeteria food: in scoops and plops.
Did someone ask for GROWTH? Order up. <Wink.> I promise, you won’t be bored with me.