In the end, it’s about the kids.

Last night, I stayed up giggling and discussing school issues with Devon, the science teacher at my school.  That’s one thing I really love about my school is I really truly respect and learn from my coworkers – something I didn’t really have at my old places.

Today was uneventful.  This week had been a series of ups and downs, and at the end of the day, despite wonky structures, uneven leadership, and unfulfilled promises, it’s really about the kids.

At my first site, it really angers me to see kids really push and test new teachers.  Watching them do that reminds me of all the hardship I had last year.  So, when TC was on a different website and kids were making weird noises, I swooped in and sent him off with a referral.  Yet as I was writing this referral, I felt we got an okay conversation in.  (I did feel a little guilty because although I gave him warnings/reminders to stay on the right site last week, I hadn’t given him one this week).

“TC, you know why we’re spending all this money and time on this program?”

*shrug”

“Was math good for you last year?  Why wasn’t it good for you?”

“Because we didn’t get it.”

“Yeah, nobody except ___ got anything.  But here we are trying to make things individualized for you, and you’re wasting it.  Tell me, do you do math at home?”

“Yeah.. sometimes.”

“Really?” (Skeptical)

“No yeah, really. Sometimes.”

“Okay. But I bet you spend waaay more time watching Jeremy Lin than doing math.  How about the next time you’re here, you spend math time doing math?”

I know I sound harsh in this exchange, but the reason I wanted to share this was because I felt the conversation worked and because I was here before, there was something to build on.  I love just bumping into these kids as they grow and being able to teach without all the management, new-teacher drama.

The unfortunate thing is seriously, these kids are so entitled (especially now that I can compare between schools). I get so irritated at how these kids constantly want to listen to music or play games.  It’s like… do that on your own time.  Yet I also feel like this indicates that kids feel safe at this school.. (to be as bratty as they want).. and our reflective systems here.. I love it a lot.

[[On a side note: I hate how music is used as this pseudo-babysitter.  Sure, kids may claim it “calms” them, but there’s no research that shows its benefit (aside from classical), and, let’s be real… it’s mainly a classroom management/behavior tool. For me, I’d rather just hold kids to a higher standard. . . it doesn’t kill them. I promise.]]

Marbles did awesome today – subdued voice, ready smile.  Fists was dropped off in my 6th grade class (I have no idea why), but she did well (I’m tempted to call Seneca and be like, “please call before you send them HAHA”).  DS came in angry and “ready to fight someone” but ended well, and I have to say, I’m most proud of my interactions with her today.

I think just my brief interactions with people like Katherine (my old AP) and Devon and watching how they interact with students have helped me figure out a way to talk with my kids.  For instance, DS came in with huge outbursts and a big sucky attitude, but I kept it suuuuper light.  I laughed, I smiled, I cajoled, I encouraged.  I mainly did all this because at this school, I *know* sending the child to the office won’t solve anything.  It stinks because it cut out a lot of learning from other kids, but by the end of the day, she came up to me proudly with her laptop to show me how well she did on her exit slip, and I think emotionally, she ended in a better place.

I think I’m learning to recognize power struggles, and a lot of middle school is really just relinquishing everything so that kids would learn and come to respect and eventually emulate the way I treat people.

After school, I chatted with EC, JC2’s younger brother and his cousin.  EC who is super shy and quiet just has so much to say after school, and I think that has to do with the fact that he feels like we have a connection because I taught his brother.  He asked me if I’d be coming back next year and the fact that in September, he’s asking about next year brought a pang to my heart because this school seriously goes through so much turnover.

After the math meeting, I then recruited three 8th graders to help me organize my Chromebook cart.  This is another thing I’ve learned.  Although I never used to value organization that much and I hate decorating, I found that a super neat, precise, and decorated environment helps kids do better.  I just wish I could do more for them.

This past Wednesday, I left when school ended to walk to the other school to make it for a 2pm meeting.  As I walked through Fruitvale, I ran into a lot of kids, and I realized, I feel like I know a majority of the middle school population in the Fruitvale.  And that made me pretty happy.  300 kiddos – wanna love em all.

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