Monday, October 31, 2005

Success Story

Success happened unexpectedly this month. Since day two of school – day one with B day – my seventh block has proven an unforgiving challenge. Mid October, nothing had changed. I left for two days on a trip to Amherst to speak on an education panel and to tailgate at the homecoming game that Saturday. For two days my classroom was in the hands of an unknown substitute. When I returned the following Monday I discovered that the only problem had by the sub was with seventh block. The whole class had been loud, disrespectful, and manipulative. I punished them that Monday with a loss of bathroom privileges and a two hundred point (test points) disciplinary essay. They were livid, complained endlessly, and claimed that they were the victims of an evil, student-blood sucking sub. I just shook my head at them. But after Monday, a small, quiet change took effect. Seventh block was playing it safe; they were monitoring each other, and attempting to win my approval. That Friday I gave them their first good behavior points of the year. They cheered for themselves and their accomplishment.

Things are still pretty decent. Although, last week I had to go home sick, leaving them in the unsuspecting hands of Mr. O-someone-or-other. While at home on the couch I received a text message from another teacher who informed me that during lunch Regina Bass had poured a Mountain Dew over Karrington William’s head. Karrington had retaliated by knocking Regina over, removing a high heeled shoe, and pummeling Regina in the head with the heel. Karrington is perhaps 98 pounds and talks in mouse squeaks. She is very paranoid about other people talking about her or injuring her reputation. Regina is another petite and very mouthy girl. They are suspended from school for 9 days. Seventh block just got even better.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Nine Weeks In

My nine weeks test failed a number of my students at the term. Yet, for many, the extra credit portion provided a more fruitful creative avenue. The extra credit assignment on the back of the test was to a.) draw a flattering picture of Ms. DeGraaf, or b.) write a poem/song/rap about how awesome Spanish 1 is. Scores were based on the students’ ability to brown nose. Some highlights are posted below:

Spanish is like the sun
Coming out on a sunny day.
It is like those days you
Wake up happy for no reason.
It’s the feeling you have
Of learning and knowing
Something new. Its
Fun and exciting just like
My Spanish teacher.
- Cecilia

!Spanish is easy
Spanish is off the heezy
Spanish is the subject
I choose for sheezy!
- Jeronimo

Me and Spanish
By: Ignacio
Spanish is my life
I wish it could be my wife
I think about it all the time
I just wish it was mine
I would do anything to keep it
I should give it a kiss
No one loves Spanish more than me
Cuz Spanish is my baby.

Beautiful Eyes
Your eyes is like
Gowing diamond
In shinning skys
Your eyes are wonderful
Seeing master
Pieces that are beautiful
To attract anyone.

Your eyes being so
Beautiful make students
Realize what school is
Really for an
- Fernando

Spanish Class Rap
Spanish class is great.
We learn at a fast rate.
Ms. DeGraaf so cool.
She’ll make you never skip school
Como te llamas
Me llamo Deonte
You see what she don
I can speak it all day
We listen then we say
The words that she may
Now my story’s getting short
So I have to abort
Just listen to what she say
You’ll make it that way.
- Rafael

Spanish Spanish learn bout Spanish
Talking in Spanish maybe I’m
Hispanic. Your gonna learn Spanish
Hola your gonna want ta
Be Spanish adios. Profesora
DeGraaf is a cool teacher
She makes me learn all this
Stuff from flash card
Game I’m learn this stuff
Even though I had three years
Before hey I’m just lucky
To remember this stuff
Ah ha say uno dos
Tres I know how to count and my
Ah be say in Spanish
- Teresa Sly

Spanish Harmony
Ay papi, do you hear that sound
Ay mamasita, looks what’s going around
It’s the word or have you not heard
Spanish class is so good it’s got that harmony
The harmony that can’t amount to no money
The rock of that double ele makes you move
While the jazz of enye makes you groove
Español has never felt so good now
Let’s move and groove to the Spanish Harmony.
- Conchita Marzo

I can’t draw and I’m not creative so I will just say that you look like the Terminator III chick. Her name is Kristina Loken or something like that.
- Pablo Savell

Eyes Wide Shut

I wrote this last week, but it has taken until today to post. Lo siento mucho.

Teaching pace is picking up. It’s possible we will learn some Spanish in Spanish One. Encouragingly, it’s October.

The interesting events of the past week have had a more social than academic slant. Thursday I was invited to dine with a group of teachers from Wingfield, all older than me, most significantly older. We went to an old hotel on Capital Street, and started with some drinks (I routinely drink Bud Light now when I go out. As the water of the South, it is cheap and always where you want to be.). The conversation veered immediately toward bitching as it always does, and I laughed good naturedly; I don’t wish to contribute more than necessary to the negativity, but I also hope to establish as many allies at school as possible. Aside from being older, this group of teachers is also all white. That might not be strange if all of the teachers at Wingfield were white, but I would guess that roughly only a third identify as Caucasian. Despite my immediate suspicion of the racial breakdown, or lack thereof, I tried to remain optimistic, or perhaps just plain naïve, to the situation. Then a fellow teacher, a younger (early thirties?) white woman, originally from Mississippi, commented, “I feel so bad for the few white kids at school because they’re forced to associate with only black kids. There’s no one for them to be close to or to date…” Her voice trailed off with her saddened gaze, while I stared at her, shocked, mouth momentarily agape. Fortunately, there were no other such blatantly racist comments, and I did flirt with the old men enough to get my dinner paid for.

The second eye-opener also took place on Thursday, during fourth period when I confiscated a note, the highlight of which read, “I got that good dick yesterday morning and evening I me feeling real good.” That student has now transferred to a job program in Batesville. Her friend, who confesses to “be doing 69 downlow” on JD still tries to avoid looking me in the eye every other day in 4th period.