Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I don't do Senioritis. Oh, yeah, and Utah is currently my favorite state.

When you look back on the day, it was actually pretty good.

My Zero and Fourth Period Intro classes worked on how to take a Demand survey and calculate the best price for revenue. We practiced and practiced and they were getting it at the end. Some were very proud.
My College Prep classes were nice and spunky, even though we talked about Government Regulations. My third period class got me off course a little and we started talking about gender sterotypes. Only two girls in a class that has about 20 said that they can change a tire on a care. When asked why, a few said that it was the guys job to change tires. I decided to that it was the perfect time to lighten the mood and went on a diatribe.

"See my brothers", I announced to the minority of guys, "this is what I am talking about! We must fight the power and fulfill Dr. King's vision of justice and equality! May this be message to all the males of the world that we will not take this tire changing sterotype lying down! No justice, no peace!!!".
The class lost it in laughter. The note taking mood lightened and the rest of the period worked out great. I know it is risky, and sometimes Seniors want you off track. But if you manage it right, you can rein them in by allowing a short mental break. Then back to work.

The problem of the day was 1st period Intro. Three boys sit together and are basically, well, teenage boys. Today, I asked them a number of times during instructions to relax and calm down. They kept playing grab ass (not literally, a term), making faces and finally, throwing a paper airplane. My response was simple.
"Last warning, knock it off or your moving."

"What?? What did we do, huh?? It's not like we are doing anything."

That is my signal that these boys are looking for an arguement. Most students will pipe down because they realize that my final warning means "It is over". So I decided to act.

"Out the door, now. Wait for me outside." I said it very calmly. I wasn't mad (as I might have been a year ago). It was business, not personal. They trudged outside, muttering that I was overreacting and was being unfair. I then continued with the instructions and lesson. I left them out there.......for 25 minutes. I checked every 5 minutes through my window to make sure they didn't bolt. They didn't. When I was down with my lesson (and with 5 minutes left in class), I went outside and announced to them.
"From now on you will do exactly as I tell you. You are in my classroom and you will follow my rules. Failure to do so will result in your removal from my classroom, loss of points, and a possible problem for your graduation (my class is required). I will answer none of your questions."
The really smart-assed one asked, "Isn't this a democracy?".
And the conversation ended. They came into the room, got the assignment from peers, and then left with the bell. They were not happy and shouted it in the hall on their way out. Later at lunch, one of their girlfriends came up to me and said, "There are students that hate you because you are so mean." It really didn't phase me as much as it might have last year. Why? Because this summer I had at least 12-15 past students that I ran into tell me that they appriciated my class and that they actually learned something. It was hard, but it was more like college than most of high school. So it didn't bother me that students were pissed that I wouldn't take Middle School bullshit. I bothered me that I had to be a Middle School teacher for a period, but sometimes you have to do that.
Look, I'm not unfair to my Seniors. I work lessons around important Senior events (Prom, Homecoming, Senior Cut days, etc), I work with students that go visit colleges, and I'll always listen. But Senioritis is bullshit. I'm tougher on my Seniors during the second semester. I don't take late work. I don't accept cutting class. I don't accept tardies. I don't accept not working up to my standards. But Seniors in my class actually accomplish something that they worked for. I know plenty of teachers that take the path of least resistance with Seniors because they are really a different breed of student. In my eyes, that is a cop out and a disservice to students that must fight much tougher battles in the coming years.

I love my Seniors. But dammit, they are not going to quit on me with 3 months left. I swear it.

By the way. Utah rules. The first of hopefully many states that calls out the Federal government on funding a legislated mandate. Bravo to the Utah Legislature for putting the needs of the students before a piece of failed legislation that could have bankrupted, or destroyed, their educational system.
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