Thursday, September 27, 2007

Control-freaks, fickle, mean, insane. These are the kids I know, I know.

Yes, I'll admit it. I don't care. This is my weekly reflection for my Pace University class. I'm double-dutying it. That's right. Who are you to tell me I can't? (Oh, wait, sorry, you weren't judging me and responding like a mean and rude 8th grader? Oops! Sorry!)

In response to the topic "What I have learned about my students":

Control-freaks, fickle, mean, insane. These are the kids I know.

Okay. I follow the "No Personal Attacks*" world of thought. Hell, I am a product of that world. I introduced it to my students, we brainstormed what it means, we discussed how to start a comment/response to someone else respectfully... I've followed through, we still refer to it. But...

In my Advisory class I have 12 students, half are rude, mean, cruel and talkative, so the other half are unfortunately bored out of their minds because the RMCT kids get all the attention since I'm constantly reprimanding them. We've had four meetings so far, attempting to build trust and all that, to make it a safe place to talk about real life issues, etc., thus "No Personal Attacks."

There I am at the beginning of our first class, I'm expecting things to go smoothly, everyone to be warm and cuddly and teddy bears and nice and caring, kids will open up, which will allow other kids to open up; maybe some Barbara Walters interview-type crying, followed by young-adult revelations of what it takes to be a great person in this world, no doubt ending with "I love you, Ms. S-" "You're the best teacher!" "Three cheers for the greatest teacher in the school!". . . no.

That's not what happens. It's "Shut up" "No, you shut up" "Stupid" "You're stupid" "You're a dummy" "Shut up" "Quarter Ho" (that might have been "Corner Ho" - not sure), and so on. I'm yelling for quiet, and thus the chaos only gets livelier. Drama.

So. Today, I assigned seats. I let the kids complain, in a one at a time discussion, about why they think I've declared "no laughing" in Advisory. I try to explain that I want laughter, but when it's appropriate. So on. . . and on. . . and on. . . and on (did I mention they are all big talkers?).

Finally, I asked them what their best memories of Advisory in past years are. They got into it. They shared. I heard about wonderful games, trips, stories; great memories with other teachers. They told me I should talk to these great other teachers and get advice, and also bring in food. I made no promises. They told me about a used condom in the recess yard. I let them laugh uncontrollably for 10 seconds. They got to finish off the period telling "funny" stories about crazy people on the subway. I told them we could end with funny stories in every class (God help us), and next week we're starting with student surveys and talking about trust and they were okay with it.

Essentially, What I have learned about my students is that these kids get into it after we talk it out for a while. They want to be in control. I let them feel like they were. They are still mean to each other even with "NPA" but because they are enjoying the class a little more (because they have the control and can talk about condoms), they are no longer calling each other "Quarter/Corner Ho's" (Hoes? Hos? And I call myself a teacher of English Language Arts!). And that's good enough for me, at least for this week.

*Please have respect for each other**.

**i.e. DON’T BE AN A**H***!

- Don’t say “shut up”
- Don’t call each other names.
- Don’t laugh at each other, especially if it is
a serious conversation.
- Don’t hit each other.
- Don't make fun of each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment