A few random thoughts as I impatiently wait for the last 50-some minutes of grad class to wind down…
-According to I., I look just like Taylor Swift. He informed me of this last week, I think in the middle of a social studies lesson. To provide some clarifying details: I have short, straight brown hair. Oh, and my eyes/face/body type look nothing remotely like a blonde country pop star. But I know that he sincerely meant this when he said it, so I’m going to think of it as a legitimate compliment.
-My school was completely out of copy paper for about 5 days. The drought finally ended yesterday and my kids were able to have normal lessons and assignments again (I had hoarded a little bit of lovely pastel pink paper earlier in the year, so we were at least still able to have math worksheets.) We all have smartboards and I have an iPad for classroom use that sits collecting dust in my apartment. But really, all I ever pine for is enough copy paper. And a fully functioning copier. And also maybe an endless supply of perfectly sharpened pencils. A girl can dream, right?
-Another of my students was expelled at the end of last week, and even though he could be really difficult at times, I miss his presence in the class and his sense of humor. He was one of my several students whose parents work at the school, so he was always hanging around my room early in the morning and after class, and even on his worst days, I enjoyed the conversations we had then. Unfortunately, he had a long string of prior behavior offenses and a pretty dramatic last straw: he shouted out a comment in the middle of class that was so incredibly vulgar/vaguely threatening that I had trouble repeating it to our school dean, and refused to say it to my mom over the phone.
-The first issue of our school newspaper came out this week! At a K-12 school that has traditionally had no extracurricular activities, this felt like kind of a big deal. I’ve been supervising the group along with an awesome fellow journalism major/TFA CM at my school. We’ve had our challenges, and about half of the first issue was devoted to student & staff profiles. But hey, it’s a work in progress.
-I got in trouble with school leadership this week for taking my kids out to recess. For the record, I have taken my kids out for recess TWO times in the entire school year, for about 15 minutes each. Once was after they had been standardized testing for 2 days straight. The second time was because it was 70 degrees in March in Minnesota/we can see the empty playground from our window/it’s the end of the day and we won’t be productive anyway due to dismissal announcements/holy crap why the heck not?! But, I apparently committed a trifecta of terrible teaching sins, which are, in increasing order of importance, 3. Damaging our beautiful playground equipment by letting students who are “too old” play on it; 2. Selfishly crowding the playground when the younger grades don’t get enough recess time as it is; and 1. Wasting precious instructional time. I’m over the first 2 complaints, but as for the third, the guilt is eating away at me and I think that TFA should probably put me on probation, or something.
-We finished our World Religions unit in social studies class yesterday, and my class got their long-awaited reward: they got to teach me a lesson on Islam, and tomorrow I have to take a quiz. Rarely have I seen some of my kids so motivated to work cooperatively. I started off the hour with a quick description of what a lesson should include, gave them about 25 minutes to coordinate their instruction, and then sat in a student desk and diligently took notes. They LOVED it, and I enjoyed it quite a bit too.
A few highlights from the lesson (these are from the section on what Muslims should and shouldn’t do):
-S: “You should highly respect anyone who helps you. That’s why our parents say you respect a teacher as much as a parent, because they are just trying to help you. Did you know that some people in our class don’t do that?”
-A: “You can’t ever throw away food. So that’s why when you make us throw away our Takis we can’t do it.” Me: “Maybe your Takis should stay in your locker, then.”
-A: “If you’re not a Muslim when you die then you’re going into the hellfire.” I: “Ughhhh you can’t say that to her! Other people have their own beliefs and those are just our beliefs!”