The principal came in today to do the observation that was scheduled for last Thursday, when his sister had unexpected surgery. I told him he could have any day he wanted. He suggested either today or tomorrow, so I suggested getting it over with...
Of my seven, count them, seven students, one is on vacation in Florida (has an F in the class, so why not reward her, right?), one was home ill, and one was fighting with the coach's computer, trying to get his paper printed off. As he sat down, my most hyperactive senior was passing out papers, sorting those for absentee students back into the hand back basket. I announced that we were going to put the Question-Answer Response material (the lastes hoop we are all jumping through) back on the board, even though we had it in the chapter two and chapter three notes. "There's one other place it needs to be stored," I hinted, tapping my temple.
"On My Own!" exclaimed a senior who moved out and is living on his own with his girlfriend after a tremendous fight with his parents last year.
The only girl still in the classroom said, "Duh, that's 'In My Head", dodo." Both times we had put it up before, she wrote it, and edited out the mistakes the first time later on as we got there... So I'd tipped her off when I had her in Spanish second hour, and said I was going to call on a boy, and then let her edit, as needed. (I was so thrilled they were controlling their vocabulary and being cooperative with the principal in the room...)
"Who wants to write them on the board this time?"
The paper-passer, who had seen the hand-out, said, "I'll read!" Two people laughed. (Unfortunately, the other one probably also thought we were reading...) "Well, G, as a reward for being a good listener, (the chaper is on effective listening skills), you may write up the material that is in the notes. He looked around, hang-dog, to his classmates for some clue.
"QAR" coughs one boy.
"QAR?" (I was holding my breath, praying he didn't add, "What's that?")
Then he writes it, immediately erasing it, glancing at the others to see if that was, indeed, what he was to write.
"Where'd the title go?" I asked, helping him out a bit.
The Roman numeral I appeared, then he paused. With the proper indent, he put A and B in line, also blank, moved right on to II and the A and B that went there.
"Well, we've got the format down, I see." Last week, when one professed not to know how Roman numerals worked, we put the whole outline format on the board and in their notes. Since one boy doesn't read/write cursive, up went both block print large and small and cursive large and small alphabets, again from class request. Several students commented that they were not using standard letters in their own writing. "Well, you are responsible for using them correctly now. It has been duely retaught."
Now, he's stuck. Writing very off handedly, he puts "Think and Search" after I. The class, who can be looking at their notes, laugh. He erases it swiftly. One boy tells him that it should have been B, but he doesn't put it there. Another works "In the Book" so cleverly into a sentence that G. doesn't catch it at first. We get it, properly capitalized. "Right there" appears in A. After Roman II, he starts "The Author" when the laughter stops him.
"It's In Your Head," right there, tapping his temple, contributes JW.
JC informes G that his beginning was the B answer again. With constant prompts, he gets "On My Own" in A and "Think and Search" where they go. Then when he writes "The Author and Me" he teases a bit, as we had said that in this class, it was the author, the teacher and me...
So then we read. We figured out the point of view and what we were supposed to do with the information, and finally, the 15-20 minutes the principal was to spend was over. When he left, we had a really good, but less outlandish discussion. Each person who read then told what the jist of his/her selection was. The meat was on gender stereotypes, and the listing that was to happen began while the principal was still there. A boy was to put the "typical" female characteristics on the board, and a girl the typical boy's. But we ended up with two males... so I again called on the "good listening" we were to be doing and got them switched.
The lists of characteristics were unbelievable. Among more expected items were "pigglets, pour drivers, none muscular, and clean freaks" for the girls. G started out showing how male chauvenistic he was... until the other boys shouted him out of it... He wrote, "I'm weak, quiet, not outgoing, like to keep to myself, self-confident, emotional" before the others said "Not..."
The boy's list had less help, as the other girls were gone. "Accident-prone, die off first, only nice when they want something, some are momma's boys, need to be babied (debate over whether that was spelled right)."
"Crybabies" went up for the girls, but JW made G take it off. "I cry." He's also in football, etc. and nobody wanted to question his manliness... The two still in their seats were soon up and also as close to the board as they could get. That engagement would not have happened had the principal stayed in the room.
When we hit the part about how the roles of men and women had changed since WW II, they wanted my views. (In their defense, the book did say to consult an OLD PERSON, but not in those exact words.) I patted my gray head and told them I'd earned it. They could not believe my mother did not have to work outside the home. Meals with the whole family eating at once, full meals each night, not snacks... Ballet, tap, music, each child going in a different direction... no aspect was left unturned by their curiosity. "I watched my mom keep all the interests of every other family member balanced and afloat... she should have a medal for that... But, what were HER special interests? Nope. She got to do ours vicariously."
G thought that was what all women should still do. I suggested he might want to allow them to be real live people, as well...
The discussion got involved and went far beyond what the book had in mind. One boy expressed sorrow that I had no children. I had told them that in seventh grade health, when we were being taught to replace ourselves (one wife-one husband, and YES that would happen first), I told my sister who wanted 6 children she could have my two because I did not want any.
The one girl jumped right in. "You're the oldest, too, aren't you? I get that all the time. Mom has to work, and I get to raise the other two." The others got equally candid.
G continued, "It's still kinda sad, though."
"Not if that's what I wanted and freely chose. There's no end of children to be an old mother hen to without having to torture myself getting them through the first ten years."
Dress code. I was wearing jeans and a sloppy sweat shirt with lettering and colorful designs on the front. They were shocked that when I first began to teach, women were not allowed to wear slacks... only dresses. They could tell me the ONE thing I'd worn all year that was in line with the "loosened" dress code when we could wear nice pant suits... the outfit I wore the first day of parent-teacher conferences. I told them who started jeans on Friday, then through the week here on our staff. They told of one coach who NEVER wore jeans to work, although he will do a Hawaiian shirt on occasion.
I haven't had a group open up on a personal level for over 15 years. It will be interesting to see what happens when we try to finish up with more of the class present. We still have the graph of woman's and men's wages over the last 75 years or so to examine.