pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

Tempest in a Teapot Time

I actually got called down to the principal’s office today for NOT giving a kid a detention. I kid you NOT. I asked the kid, “Do you have a pass?”

“No. I’ll go get one.”

“No. I’ll email her.”

He starts toward the door. I say “NO” again. And again and yet a third time before he stops. “I want you IN CLASS, ON TASK.” (sit down and read.)

Between 4th and 5th hours, Mrs. P. (whose husband died recently of cancer), the teacher who kept him late and sent him on without a pass, came to see me.

"We were down at the senior awards assembly, and someone said something to me that reminded me of the time (I forget the number of years ago) when my husband was in the hospital getting chemo. She tears up, and I lost it. Now, I DO NOT know why she kept a seventh grader late because she teared up in an assembly. SHE has a prep period next. HE has a class. That part never got explained. "It's all my fault," she ended.

"No problem," I say, nodding to two high school boys who have entered the room, deposited their books, and hand signaled that they wanted to go to the rest room.

So, she repeated her story again. Two more girls come in, put their books down and look at her, wide-eyed, and motion to the door, no doubt to follow the guys down the hall to the rest room... out where I should be watching... I nod and they both leave. Mrs. P. starts in on the story for about the third time in as many minutes. I again assure her it was NO PROBLEM, for the third time.

Another girl enters, piles her books high on the desk, then drops in behind them, all slumped down. Body English clearly says, "Oh, don't get her started. I don't want to hear it again." Mrs. P leaves, but she refused to believe it, I guess, or why would the principal come to me 7th hour??? Or, she thought I had to give him one in that situation, maybe? I don't want her in charge of my classroom rules. Please, NO. I can't do my job well in her kind of chaos.

Soon, I was on hall duty and heard TS, the late seventh grader with the magic last name (G'mama a former teacher here when I first came), complaining to my co-teacher. As he entered the science room, I told her that he got dressed down for NOT OPENING HIS BOOK AND READING when I told him I'd email her about his tardy.

Now, that means that come Monday, if he'd LIED about his reason, he'd get a detention.

After lunch, I got an email from the principal, but I didn't know it as I was running all over the building trying to find Mr. K., the resource room teacher, because one of his little darlings was asked to skim through one of the books for next year and locate WORDS HE DIDN'T KNOW. He put "fist", "fear", "tears", and "cot" on the list. Say WHAT??? Yes, we ARE in an impoverished area of the country, and one of those impoverishments is VOCABULARY, but TEAR???

The math teacher next door says he tells them, "If you don't know that by seventh grade, you're TOO STUPID to be here."

I can't see me adopting that style any time soon.

CA, my "put the head down and sleep because I am passing and CAN'T AFFORD TO" style of student learner, needs some motivation. I'd stuck a DVD I'd never seen in my purse this morning, and offered it as a reward for doing the two back pages of workbook (which he'd skipped, but marked off on his assignment sheet) which needed to be done at a passing level. As he set up the DVD, I graded his work. He'd said he wanted two stars, or at least a star and a half. (each star = perfect page of work).

Five exercises two of which were perfect, one on each page, so I again teased him about shooting himself in the foot so he would not be accused at home of sucking up to success. He's the only one there earning money, the only one of normal intelligence, and soooo needy for attention, that NEGATIVE ATTENTION is FINE WITH HIM.

I got mad at him last week when he again took his D back into the F range deliberately, and took advantage of Ryan's absence to yell at him a bit. "I don't care what your family background is, or how much trouble your brother gets into. YOU are bright enough to succeed. YOU can make it. YOU are the only one YOU have to live with for the rest of your life. Get a grip. Quit shooting yourself in the foot. You have a detention for refusing. Stop and think -- YOU CAN MAKE IT IN THIS CLASS."

So, part way through the movie, I notice he's stopped writing. "C., what word are you on?"


"That's not enough. You can't get there on a 14."

"Can I make a second column?" (He creates such horrid messes that they are unreadable. I won't let him do anything but one per line, numbered... so I can actually have a prayer of reading them.)

"Start a new sheet."

"Oh." As if he'd never thought of that. Instead of hitting the pause, he jumps up and backs across the room, still facing the movie, takes a quick glance behind him as he nears my desk, dives for a piece of paper, and goes back, writing to exactly 20, the number that gets him the total amount of extra credit allowable.

"You made it. It rounds UP to a D-"

The bell rings. He's at the water fountain, the principal outside doing hall duty. I grab his arm and fake drag him down the the principal, (his back is partially to the principal), who is trying his best to ignore us both. Nobody else comes up to chat, so he has to look my way. I tell him he has to SHAKE C's hand.

He offers it, but is questioning it. "He is now passing, even though he still owes me a detention." He goes off smiling to his math class. I start into my prep period, still trying to run down the Resource room teacher to answer one of his email requests -- a copy of the test his students will be taking for finals next week.

My third time up, Mr. K. was there, as well as the cooperating teacher. I handed him LB's work sheet, which is so messy that I can barely read it, and has words on it that are WAY TOO LOW for a seventh grader. He moved back about a foot, as not only was HIS ARM way too short... (He's a gray hair, too...)

"I can't read that."

"Neither can I very well."

The boy is sitting at the long table in his room, facing away from the three of us.

"L., come read this to me," he bellows as if the kid is in the next county. (Maybe THAT'S why I don't get far with him... I keep a civil tongue in my head most of the time, tease him with Spanish words/phrases -- when HE starts it -- before anyone else is in the room, and try to adjust to the goofiness.)

He reads, "'Gramp', 'fist'..."

The cooperating teacher leaned in. "You mean you don't know 'fist'? What's this one? 'Fear'? You don't know 'fear'? And this, 'cot'? You expect us to believe you don't know what a cot is? 'Tears'? I don't believe it." Her voice drips sarcasm and disgust.

He starts in on his second list. "Gongs; I REALLY don't know what gongs are."

The coach says, "Sit down and do it right. Make it so I can read it."

The kid exits. I have one more thing, a semester final for one of his students. I tell him what interventions I am making for her. "Oh, I didn't mean I needed a copy of YOUR TEST. I just want the ones I can help the students with." (He is NOT LIKELY to ever learn even Hola or Adiós, obviously... So, WHY am I running up the stairs to catch him between every class???)

By the time I get back down the stairs, the kid is nowhere in sight, but the yellow sticky note I'd written stating the problem adorns my doorway, and the Spanish II kid who asked for personal help 7th hour is there, trying her hardest, on task.

I tell her I have to run some papers upstairs to Mr. K. and will be right back. L. is still gone, so I drop off the papers and take the long route back, hitting up los servicios for the first time since 8:30 am, and call a serviceman, who is NOT IN, then grab the mail from my box and head straight for class. Elapsed time, less than five minutes. She's peeking her head out of the door, looking up the stairs toward Mr. K.'s room, stumped, and badly needing help.

With me asking the right questions and her hitting the pause where I'd asked her to, she easily can do the Spanish. She's a good kid. We start to chat about female large animal vets, with me telling some good stories about my vet experiences at ISU, where she plans to end up.

But, a few minutes of ego building are just NOT IN THE CARDS. The principal pops in, registers surprise to see me chatting with a high school student, (what, even students on your prep period? Half of the time when he pops in, I have at least one extra with me... why the surprised look?) He's not going to speak in front of her, but suggests I send her off. Well, if she needed to be sent off, she'd have been long gone. I don't know what she is after, but obviously, SOMETHING is still going on. I'm not going to send her anywhere.

I tell her I'll pop down and see what he wants, and sure enough, it is the same stuff I'd handled with two other staff members so far today... TS and his NON detention. I tell him the whole story. I remind him that I don't like to give a lot of detentions. He nods his head in agreement, but I am unsure that he is agreeing that he KNOWS it, or if he agrees with that policy. I remind him that T will gladly ingratiate himself to anyone, as long as he gets to run the halls in return. I stress that the behavior I wanted from the kid was SIT DOWN AND READ. He nods his head and says he has a conference coming up 8th hour with him, and he'd drive my point home, then thanks me.

I need to sign TS up for "Olympic Reading, the Ultimate in Track and Field events." First one to finish their book and ace a 10 point vocab quiz done entirely while jogging around the school building wins an A. (Short aside here, as I generate more potential 07-08 courses. See separate email...)

When I went back to class, L. was still there. She was ever so curious, so I said, "Can you believe ANYONE can get in trouble for NOT giving a detention?" Cracked her up. "Some days are just LIKE that..." She'd been short tempered in class, and while taking her test (put off for two days,) had gotten snippy and not tried her best.

"I hate to take tests," she confided. We were heading back where she wanted to go, but the bell caught us.

I go out on hall duty and float the "get in trouble for NOT giving a detention" with the math teacher. He's pretty careful to cover all the bases, but I finally get a laugh from him. (There are situations where we have to follow the rules...)

So after school, I sent him:
Maybe I should have cried with her? She's had a tough time of it this year. I could have, but I had another class coming right in, and that's where my focus was.

(Originally, I addressed all the big wigs copies of the OTHER EMAIL, but then I thought I'd better float it your way, first. I'm one of those impulsive people... So, send/no send suggested courses list?)

On 5/18/07 3:06 PM, "DL" wrote:


On 5/18/07 3:01 PM, "pandemo" wrote:

> I listened to her between classes this am, and assured her that there was NO
> On 5/18/07 1:06 PM, "DL" wrote:
>> Mrs. P. came to me and said she might of been part of a situation that put a
>> student into the situation of receiving a detention.
>> Mrs. P. broke down after class. It involved running into someone after the
>> Sr. awards [that knew her husband].
>> She believe she had involvement that Started a series of things in motion.
>> Should listen to her---to start with.
>> Thanks!
>> Mr. L.

Originally posted 5/18/07

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