Thursday, May 26, 2005

End of the year for Seniors. Now I'm getting tested.

Well, its that time of year again. Only this year it is amplified because I teach five classes of Seniors. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the "Test and tribulation" of the graduating class.

As I have stated in many posts, teaching Seniors is different than teaching any other level of student. This becomes more evident with graduation around the corner. Evidence of tribulation:
-This week the level of guidance and parent calls have tripled when it has, all of the sudden, become clear that students may not graduate. This means I have to put on the patient and practical vibe and remind students and parents that I'm not responsible for the child's behavior, the child is.
-Those that are failing, or are dying for a better grade ask about extra credit. Hell, most of the counselors are now asking for extra credit for students. I don't do extra credit.
-Finally, the "What can I do to raise my grade?" question. My answer now? "Let's see, you missed 1/3 of the semester, you do 50% of the work, and the work that you do is shabby at best. You can show up all the time, never be tardy, do all the work, and hope for the best." What else am I supposed to say? I'm not here to bail out kids that decide to work during the last month of the year.
Evidence of tests:
-Seniors start thinking that they can do "adult" things now that they are about to graduate. The profanity is starting to get bantered around much more carelessly. I do my best to get the students to rephrase discussion, or simply ask them not to use profanity. As the year ends, it is harder to enforce.
-The last two days have been over 90 degrees. This means that girls have decided to come to school with little or nothing on. Our school really has no "dress code", with the exception of gang related attire. I used to be really strong on nailing girls about dress, until I realized that nobody else was helping me out. Now I ask the real over-the-top offenders to put on a sweater or something. I've had no problems this year. Today, two girls came in to test out the rule. One wore backless bandana dress, the other a strapless tube top. I asked them to put something on and they made the effort to go to the office to grab some clothing to put on over the skimpyness. From what I saw from others today, those two were tame. As a younger male teacher, 18 year old girls wearing next to nothing in a classroom is dangerous every which way around. It is a distraction to male students, it creates complaints from other female students, and it becomes a liability for me in the classroom.
-After completing some text work, a student in my 4th period Intro class brought out a copy of "Grow" magazine, a publication that advocates the cultivation of marijuana. I felt something that I haven't really felt all year, a situation that I didn't know how to deal with. The student argued that he had the freedom to read what he wanted. I decided to deal with the situation by not giving him a referral, but sending him to the vice-principal to decide what was to be done. In short, he was told that it was unwise to read the books on campus and to make better choices. After being told this, I became totally irritated. The vice-principal didn't think it was worth a confrontation and that we really couldn't stop him from reading that. Tell me I'm wrong, but I thought the point was to make schools a drug free haven. My guess is that the town's continued pressure to keep marijuana legal and regulated once again had an impact in our school.

I know, sounds rough. Still, I love what I do and don't want to sound like a complainer. Here's a nice piece of news; Congressman Mike Thompson is coming to my College Prep classes to answer questions from my students. In November, while doing a Mock Congress, my students wrote letters to Congressman Thompson about a variety of issues. In January, I got a call from him asking if it was ok if he showed up in mid-February. We had a vacation week, so it didn't work. Low and behold, he called back and rescheduled for June 1! Of course, the Congressman is very far left and I don't agree with him on just about anything. However, he is a veteran of Vietnam (Purple Heart), he's a member of the United States House of Representatives, and the students need to learn that:
1. Regardless of partisanship, there are people that should be respected.
2. It is ok to ask our leadership tough questions, and expect straight answers.

My wife finished cleaning out the old apartment and we are now solidly entrenched in our new house. It is cooler and quieter than the last place, leading to much better sleeping at night. Unfortunately, boxes are everywhere. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, the inside will be more settled and I can begin the slow process of cleaning out the garage!
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