Rage and Response

The time in the blog where I rage my feelings and then respond rationally.

Fuzz is so rude to me.  He talks backs, mutters under his breath, and acts all incredulous when I say things such as, “Stop talking” or “excuse you.”  I hate how he holds up his hands in mock innocence and how he gives me his smile as he says, “Oh Ms. Kim, you don’t know how terrible I could really be.”  I hate how he assumes my letting him off the hook is a sign of weakness or how when I sternly reprimand him, he thinks I’m overreacting. I hate his condescending attitude and his know-it-all commentary.  Yet then I feel bad because I’m the teacher, and I’m supposed to be the one that goes the extra mile, swallows his sarcasm, and gives him second, third, and fourth chances.  But, really.  Why do I have to be the person who’s polite, kind, and doesn’t give low blows?  Why?  

Okay. Really?  You are the teacher.  You are the one there who is supposed to care.  You are loved. So you can love.  YES. Who cares if he thinks you’re stupid or easy?  Who cares if he thinks you’re strict and overly demanding?  Either way, you need to love.  And remember, there’s a fine line between revoking privileges and punitively lashing back from a position of power.  Be gracious.

Okay, fine.  I hear what you’re saying but it’s still not really registering.  Moving on. In general, I’m just really disappointed.  I feel like at the end of the year, there’s been no impact.  I read a study recently talking about how in middle school, students respond better from watching than from being preached at, but it feels like none of that works.  These kids are still super whiney and grumpy when it comes to things like my forbidding soda!  I told them today not to purchase soda, and then I left.  Then they snuck soda anyway.  Then today, I’m grading poems and one poem is totally plagiarized.  It’s just.  What do I do? It’s the end of the year.  If they haven’t learned it by now, then when will they learn it?  Do I even bring it up?  I bet they’re tired of hearing it. I’m tired of saying it.

They will look back and remember.  You never know.  And girl, you’re fighting against a system.  The large sugar companies target youths and it’s not your fault if health is not reinforced at home.  At the same time, do you think you’re just pushing your yuppie ideals onto your kids?  Soda and attitude aside, they’re 8th graders.  They’re learning how to function in society, and at least, you stuck by your guns even though it made you unpopular. Good for you.

In terms of plagiarism, yes you need to talk to that student.  I’m not sure what you should “do” though.  You’ve talked with him before about his “minimal is best” mentality, and you know that his parents actually don’t see school as that important. I know it’s killing you that this super bright child is literally wasting his brains, but at the end of the day, are you his parent?  Do what you’re supposed to do – and no more.  Don’t try to add consequences or get him to feel it.  You have plenty more of these kids in the future, and there’s no point in working yourself up about this.  This has happened before with this kid.  You’ve had him for two years.  You have 6 more days with him.  No miracles will happen.  Sorry.

Okay. Um rage and response is not working.  All it’s doing is making me feel more worked up.  At the end of the day, I just wonder.. am I too hard on them?  I know a lot of times plagiarism happens because students feel helpless.  Am I just setting them up for failure?  Yet how do I gauge scaffolding versus student responsibility?  

At the end of the day, be honest.  With the research projects, did you give them enough time?  Were you available?  With the poetry project, were you there, and were you walking through it with them?  I know there’s always more you can do.  I know that if they were listening the first time, you wouldn’t have to explain it again.  And yet, isn’t it also your responsibility to keep them engaged?  Don’t worry- next year, you can have time to figure out how to connect what you’re teaching to who they are as people.  You can continue to edit and fix.  You like that.  You can do it.

It’s the end of the year, and this year, it was sad.  Every time I went on break, I wasn’t refreshed when I came back to school, I was irritated. I didn’t want to be here.  I hope next year will be better, because at the end of the day, if this is how I feel inside, well, I need feedback from others, but maybe I need to move on.

You know what? Maybe you do.  Or maybe, you at your worst is still better than some at their best.  Let’s keep working at it, and let’s not be depressed.  It’s almost 11pm and you’re tired.  Take a nap and prepare some more.  We’ll try this once more.  Just remember: tomorrow: be cheerful.  So what if they didn’t do their homework? It’s not the end of the world.  What are your objectives?  Let’s stick to that.




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