When the class bell rang, the other half of the eighth graders, which includes one very tall one who SHOULD be in 9th grade, but, although quite BRIGHT, is passive aggressive, with an authoritarian father he is rebelling against, so he pulled 4 or 5 F's out of spite, entred and scattered to the empty seats.
The new student was sitting in the second seat from the end of the last row. Once the bell rang, one boy in the front corner raised his hand and asked, "Who's HE?" pointing.
I was surprised. This is a VERY small school in a VERY small community. Generally, the STUDENTS know ALL about a new family, in school, or not, long before the official records reach the school, sometimes even before the parents show up to enroll them.
I told them his name, then asked the young man where he was from. "Davenport."
Class went on, most at once settling down for their 45 uninterrupted minutes of silent, sustained reading. We'd fought all the wars last year, and last quarter of last year had really jelled, with 15 of 21 earning A+'s, 3 earning A's, 2 earning A-'s, and one lone hold-out (also perfectly bright) pulling a C, so they KNEW I was not lying to them when I said NO CHILD WOULD BE LEFT BEHIND -- that they ALL could reach their goal, because they were at THEIR OWN LEVEL, and the quizzes were written at that level.
After sending the new student to a computer, I asked one boy who was sitting right in front of the computer the new boy was to use to take his leveling test to help him. Importantly, he stood up and helped. I watched the screen change from one to another until the new boy announced, "I ain't got no password."
Everyone chuckled softly at his bad grammar. They knew.
"'Don't have', not 'ain't got'. Come on up,"
Writing it on a piece of scratch paper, I caution him to keep it safe. He returns, and the screen again changes properly. The helper turned to sit, and the test taker nearly beat him to his chair, on the other side of the room.
Surprised, I asked, "Did you finish your test already?"
"Yup," he said smugly, crossing his arms and tipping up his chin defiantly.
A ripple of snickers ran through the room. Tests for people who are failing run about five minutes, while passers can take 15-20. I'd had several test as 12.9 (where a high school senior ready to graduate would be IF he/she were at grade level, which FEW ever are, in ANY school.)
I can pull up quiz results on my computer, but OS 10 "has issues" on my damaged G4 with a sprung side panel, so on a good day, it takes 20 minutes to mount OS 9 so we can run the program the leveling test is on. The first day of school, it took an hour and a half. So, I chose to take his word for it and move along as if he REALLY had...
"Okay, now you are ready to go to the library to pick out a book." I sent my best, fastest A+ earner with him, along with two other errands, one in the same library, one right across the hall. The new boy beat him back, bookless.
"Where's your book?"
Shrugging his shoulders, chin thrust out, he said, "I dunow." It took a half second to untangle the slurred words into don't know
"Why don't you know?" I was mostly checking to be sure I'd understood what he'd said.
"I dunow," not changing his previous pose, grinning cockily.
The other students are now mostly watching him. Some are smiling, some trying very hard not to laugh. They KNOW I won't put up with any put downs. This kid was really into putting HIMSELF down.
"Did you find the library?"
"Yep," still grinning.
"What did you do when you got there?"
"I lucked." Fortunately, he panned turning around to look around the room, as his southern twang did not translate to looked in my brain. He sat down.
"Can you remember how to get back there?"
"Okay. Your job is to find a book to read."
"I a'redy been there."
"But you came back without a book."
"This is gittin' tiring."
"Go get a book."
"Show it to the librarian, then come back to class."
He still sat.
"NOW!" He stood and sauntered from the room. My other student, just returning, looked around in confusion. I had NOT had to shout at this group for several months. He went right to his seat. I raised my eyebrows and gave a stern look starting in one corner of the room and ending in the opposite. Everyone got back on task.
When he next returned, he had a thin Goosebumps book in his hand. "Ain't nobody there."
He walked to my desk and threw the book onto it as he talked, then slowly, in a Stephen Fetchit style gait, returned to his seat.
(Well, I guess my title is a lie. I have to leave for work, and AM NOT DONE. So, sue me, I guess!)