Okay-- my third period has currently trumped my second period as a nightmare beyond nightmares. This class can spend the entire day talking, one person at a time, one scattered remark at a time--and when I lean back to wait for them to finish, they have LITERALLY spent ten minutes ignoring the fact that their assignment depends on listening to me speak.
I hates them, with the burning passion of a thousand nova suns.
So, keep this in mind when I tell you I was having a pretty good day today.
We were talking about the American Dream, which I break down with a writing prompt about being 'politician rich' or 'rockstar rich' and which, thanks to some supremely bad government between 2000 and 2008, the students have managed to link together. Trust me, there's not a one of them who is not aware that our head of office was a coke-snorting, military wash-out of a C-Student--and I love them for it.
So, I'm feeling playful-- because this has been sort of a fun day for me--and I've got a rolled up piece of paper in my hand and I'm wandering around the room, smacking desks when people start talking. It's not really making anybody stop for any length of time, but it is a lot more fun than the time honored, "Student x, y, & z, could you please be quiet?"
And then a miracle happens. Absolute silence. Everyone is ACTUALLY THINKING ABOUT THE DISCUSSION. Can you hear the angels singing? I could. Oh, wait...
No. Not angels. It was Snottana's (pseudonym eerily reminiscent of her personality) iPod.
"Snottana-- could you turn that down?" Now, Snottana and I have had our run-ins, and quite frankly, I'm to the point where I don't care if she passes or not. A kid calls me a fat fucking bitch a couple of times and then denies it when I SAW THE WORDS COME OUT OF HER MOUTH, and I get my steel plated loincloth on and hope they break their toes when they try to kick me in the nuts. So at this point, she can flame out and burn--but I've finally got something rolling with these kids, and she's not taking them down with her.
She ignores me.
"Snottana--hey, Ellie--could you get Snottana's attention?"
Ellie tries, and Snottana ignores her. She's got her sunglasses on, and she's staring straight ahead, and she's not going to turn her iPod down or even acknowledge that she's doing something wrong.
I go up to her desk and say, "Snottana, could you at least turn that down?"
"I'm sorry, I can't hear you."
"Snottana, turn down your iPod."
"I can't hear you."
"Snottana, get out of my classroom please."
"I'm sorry, I can't hear you.'
Now I'm about a foot from this kid's face, and it occurs to me, that she's told me four times she can't hear me from where she's sitting. I figure I'll assist her.
I scream it, loud enough to hear me through the open window across the quad, loud enough to knock this kid over with my coffee breath, and loud enough to gleek shit at her that I ate last week.
"Okay," she says, her voice quivering with injured dignity, "I'll get out. I'll get out and go tell the office what you did. They laugh at you when you send people out you know."
"Yeah they do," I tell her, knowing it's the truth. "I write the funniest referrals in the entire staff. I'm frickin' hilarious. Now get out of my room."
We had a decent class after that--still a lot of talking, but I was thinking when it was over. According to our stats and our horrible test scores, 40% of our students are supposed to be proficient or advanced in my subject. I looked at my stats and did my math, and realized that 25% of the students in MY room are proficient or advanced in my subject.
The fact is, I have, in the past, run my classroom with a very Rousseau type of idea. If I reinforce the idea that every student is responsible for his or her own education, I will create an atmosphere in which students will work with me and help to monitor themselves in order to facilitate their own learning.
This does not work when students have no interest in furthering their own education.
Students who will sabotage their own test scores (as I know this student--and some of my other students will do or have done) have absolutely no interest in furthering their own education.
I don't think our government counts on these students when they tell us we're not doing our jobs because our kids' test scores aren't high enough. I don't think they count on kids who can show blatant disrespect for an authority figure (and not just me--I know this kid had been this sort of high-octane heifer-bitch for most of her other teachers) taking their bad attitudes into the classroom. I don't think they count on disenfranchisement at all.
I do know that this kid seemed surprise that she would elicit this sort of response for me. I don't know why it should. I don't understand her AT ALL. Her actions are completely random to me--it seems like she'd understand random in her bones.
Okay, in better, happier news, Squish and I had a VERY funny conversation last week. We left late in the day because of a staff meeting, and as we assumed our place in the parking lot that I-80 had become, she looked around her unhappily and said, "Mama, what is this place?"
"Well, honey," I told her, pursing my lips, "this place is called Traffic."
"Mama, I do not love this place."
"Nobody loves this place, honey."
"Mama, make all these people get out of our way, so we can leave Traffic."
"I can't, baby. They hate this place too--they're trying to get out of here just like us."
"Mama, why do they have a place like Traffic?"
"Traffic is the place everybody goes between the place they're coming from and the place they want to go."
"This is not a very good place. I'm going to build a place called Shampoo, and it's going to wash away this place called Traffic."
"You do that, sweetheart--you do that, and I'll go to your place called Shampoo."
I'm going to remember that for a long time. The next time I'm sitting in I80, I'm going to hear her voice saying, "Mama, I do not love this place..."