I am a word-nerd. The kids have learned this. It’s gotten to the point where I can say things like “If you don’t all be quiet, I won’t tell you where the word ‘assassin’ comes from!” and they will hush each other to listen. We spent a bunch of time last week on the -cides, suicide, fratricide, infanticide. They were fascinated. Today was ‘decimate ‘(which I compared to decimal and decade). Sure, some of the kids’ eyes glaze over, but more and more of them are coming over to the dark side. It’s never occurred to them before that words mean something and sometimes you can figure out what they mean by breaking them down! I’m here to help.
Grades go in Friday, which means students are panicking. I had a long conversation yesterday with a young lady who has been alternately napping/screaming through my class all year. Most of the other teachers really dislike her, but we get along fine, maybe because I am totally honest with her when she’s annoying, but work really hard not to be mean.
Her: “What can I do tonight to fix my grade? Can I go home and make up some missing homeworks?”
Me: “It’s not just about homeworks. It’s about participating the right way in class every day.”
Her: “Listen, if you want me to, I’ll take this textbook home and read the whole thing and write you a report for tomorrow. Will that get me to a 70?”
Me: “Your grade right now is a 40, so probably not. Plus, I don’t want a report. I want you to come in to class every day and participate and hand in the homework. Also, your project is two weeks late.”
Her: “Okay, so if I do the project and give it to you tomorrow and I go home and do extra credit can I get a 70?”
Me: “No. It’s about every day. You can definitely get a 70 for third marking period, but you’re going to have to bring your A-Game to class every day.”
Her: “So, what can I do tonight for extra credit?”
I feel her pain, and I hate failing kids who really want to try and do better. But I think it’s the wrong message to tell them they can make up for a whole marking period of shitty work in the last couple of days. Teaching! So unexpectedly full of moral dilemmas!
I’ve had exactly two successful classes with the kids I see once a week for Regents’ tutoring. They don’t get grades for the tutoring, so they don’t care, and I only see them once a week so I’m not great with their names/personalities/needs. It’s a terrible class. I admit that. I am terrible at teaching it, and they are terribly behaved.
Today we played Jeopardy! (always my favorite multiple-choice review method). I love listening to the teams whisper angrily “No, stupid, she said Meiji Restoration, that’s when they modernized!” It gets me all giddy when I can hear them remembering what I’ve taught. So that’ll be something nice to take with me over break when I grade 140 essays. (Please kill me.)
BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK!
Y’all, I have a student so dyslexic he actually said out loud in class today:
“Wow, that’s Greece? OGM!”
It was particularly funny watching the other students slowly work out what he was talking about.
Technically I teach “global history and geography.” So today, in lieu of a well-thought out lesson, I did half a well-thought out lesson and half an episode of Planet Earth.
I thought it might be too dry and British for the kids. Not everyone likes to watch sand dunes, after all. (The “dry” thing wasn’t a desert joke, sorry.) But no! They were totally excited and engaged and asked to watch more next week. I teach inner-city kids with no concept of “jungle” or “mountain.” I’m going to show lots of clips of lots of different episodes over the next few weeks. And it’s going to be awesome.
“Hey, Miss? The project is due today, right?”
“The one we’ve been working on for three weeks?”
“The one we planned out in class and all wrote the first part of together and did peer-editing on and spent the entire class writing for the last three days?”
“Well… I don’t know if this is a bad time, but uh… What’s the project about?”
I didn’t actually go to school today. I sat home and waited for a plumber to come and fix the leak in my ceiling, so the super could rebuild the ceiling. It took all freaking day.
I knew I’d be home all day, so I brought grading. I didn’t do any of it.
Something about this time of year, man. It’s the doldrums. I spent a lot of time doing everything except grading and planning. I have to get my mojo back somehow.