The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 02 2013

Monday On The Brink

Day 127: Well … That was an eventful Monday.

I made a deal with my kids that they could enter class without lining up if they could do it without speaking. This turned out to be a significant challenge immediately after lunch. We entered once talking, then had to step back out, tried to come in again, and still managed to keep talking.

Once we got to work, it was like barely controlled chaos. I had kids running every direction, kids grabbing poster boards, kids on laptops, kids running to the library to pick up print-outs. Every time I thought about reining it in, someone would show me something awesome. I’d look at a well-written paragraph, and all I could say was, “Yes, that looks great,” thinking in my own head, “Huh … I guess this insanity is working.” Of course, kind of like the Juggernaut, that kind of momentum is hard to stop. Come clean-up time, it took about 10 minutes to wrap up, and my kids ended up being late to English.

Speaking of English, several of my girls wanted a pass, but wanted me to bring it to them in English. I knew something was up, but went along with it anyway. When I got to the classroom, the English teacher made a big deal of me apparently telling a student earlier that he shouldn’t send kids into my room to interrupt anymore. Looking around and seeing the smiles on some girls’ faces, I understood the trap. Fortunately, I legitimately had no memory of saying this, and when I let the English teacher know, he immediately believed me, and the episode got pretty boring pretty quickly.

The student in question is the infamous EC, who helped my day finish in dramatic and frustrating fashion. EC actually had a pretty solid day, and her tracker reflected that. So she asked for a candy at the end of the day, and I obliged. From there, things went downhill. She was staying after to take a test with me, but was too busy talking to another teacher and checking out the new class pictures that had come out. When I said it was time for her test, she suddenly developed the world’s worse stomachache. An ailment that, of course, miraculously disappeared when someone walked by whom she wanted to talk to.

I said we had to call EC’s mom, since she was the one who said EC could stay with me. EC spoke in Spanish for a while, in clear and dramatic distress, then gave me the phone back. Her mom said she needed to go home. I ducked into an office, and let her know this mystery illness only happened when it was time for the test. Mom didn’t care, and started saying she needed to see her daughter, she might need to go to the hospital.

I was dumbfounded. Here was a student most clearly and obviously getting out of work, who claimed at one point her illness was due to eating too much chocolate, and I was getting zero support from mom. Sixth grade histrionics are one thing. Parents abetting that kind of behavior? Insane.

I feel too tired for it to be Monday. Here’s to hoping for a more sane Tuesday.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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