Monday, August 08, 2005

Jackson, MS 39202

I’m sitting. I can count the number of times I’ve done so today on one hand. I’m sitting, and what’s more is that I’m happy to do so. For those of you who’ve been in class with me you’ve seen what a difficult time I have sitting still. This could be an indication that teaching is, in some sense, appropriate for me.

Today was the first day of school. I am alive. And despite a trying fourth period I left Wingfield with a smile on my face. I have been dreaming of blogs for a week now as I prepared for today, but until Friday I was not able to get internet service. To catch you all up: I’ve been placed in a portable at Wingfield High School in southwest Jackson. My room is the farthest back from the main building. It is the grimiest, crumbling trailer at Wingfield. No one would take it, and after moving to a new apartment last weekend, and also being brand new and inexperienced, I was too tired to argue with my principal. In my portable – P-9 - the paint is peeling off the ceiling. The doors are falling out of the door frames so that wasps enter. The first day in my classroom I scrubbed dirt and dust from Venetian blinds for six hours straight. The carpets are discolored and moisture-stained. The stains will not pick up. The janitors won’t touch the place so I have put a fair bit of elbow grease into the room. Thanks to Clorox bleach wipes, two walls of windows, and two new air conditioners, I’m almost fond of it now.

First period - homeroom – today was a dream. There are 15 kids and they appeared to be on their best behavior. Second period was double the size, but all together a good group. Third period – lunch period – is my planning period on A (Gold) days so I watched my mentor teacher teach and finally tracked down my infamous overhead projector. Fourth period looked to be a breeze until Bobby, Zach, and Chris walked in late. Chris wasn’t too much of a problem. He took a seat at a desk in the back and slept all period. No one could wake him. Bobby and Zach however immediately walked up to friends (seated and working) and started doing handshakes, small talking, etc. From this point on their tactic was to act as though I did not exist, that fourth period was their free social hour. Eventually, after an hour of constant disruption, I was able to pull them out of class and inform them that their behavior meant they had no participation points for the day and that if they did this each day they were destined to fail my class. One on one they cowed to my teacher stare. The only thing that really does make me angry about their behavior is the fact that there are about 10 motivated, smart young women in the class whose learning is completely impaired by idiotic boys.

Generally, school to appeared a complete racket. I think for some ther is great entertainment value in the entire experience. Physically, Wingfield was meant to hold 700 students, and there are nearly 1700 this year. Sometimes the school seems to function more like a prison at maximum capacity than a school. There is a complicated lunch rotation during 3rd period during, in which teachers have to escort their classes through designated lines, eat with their classes at designated tables, leave through the designated exit, take students in a group to the bathroom, then return to class and resume the lesson. Today third period ended an hour late due to lunch. Lunch aside, there are mandatory “duty posts” where teachers monitor various stations in shifts, watching out for vagrants and loiterers. The whole scenario would be eliminated if students just weren’t allowed to leave class during class time.

Despite the kinks - Bobby and Zach, lunch -the whole day went by so quickly, I almost didn’t feel it as it occured. I’m thoroughly drained and exhausted. I don’t know why really, but I’ll be going to bed as soon as the hour is not too embarrassingly early.


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