Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Violence is just another thing...

I reflect on my life in the inner city a lot, of course. I've been doing this a long time and I wonder about myself. I accept a lot of things as normal now. Strange things. I drove around the corner from school today and the street was taped off and there were a bunch of cop cars parked at crazy angles. There were numerous little red numbers spaced all over the street. Someone was shot or shot at a whole bunch of times. This was a block from school. Didn't hear it while I was there. Didn't hear the sirens either. I kept on driving. A couple of weeks ago, a colleague and I were talking after school. We heard a whole bunch of what we thought at first was fireworks. We realized "drive by shooting" at the same time. We exchanged knowing looks and kept on working. Just another normal day.

It's strange that it doesn't make much of an impression. It reminds me of a passage in a Celine book where an officer is standing in the middle of a road during a battle and is giving orders and the bullets are flying by and the officer just keeps giving orders and not even noticing the bullets. The danger is everywhere and he is immersed in it without concern. I work in a dangerous place and sometimes the danger is closer than ever. The last few weeks my students have been involved in lots of outside violence with kids from other schools. Some of the students are coming to my school to start fights. Our security guards have been heading most of the kids off at the pass. It's hairy, though. There are minor things all the time. I hope it doesn't escalate. Who knows if the violent evidence that I saw today is connected with the school violence in the neighborhood. It's not good and it's only going to get worse as the weather gets warmer.

I got a call about an interview at another school today. Hopefully, some good will come of this.

My kids are getting worse and worse. I have my good days and bad. They are mostly bad the past few weeks. I wonder why the Hell I do this. My kids just want to fight with each other, insult each other, and annoy each other. I've been teaching these kids since September and what have I done. They're just as violent and disrespectful now as they were when I met them. Ugh!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cologne is not just a city in Germany.

I have a student who has discovered cologne. He was very excited the other morning. "Mr! Mr! have you heard of 'Cuba'?" "Yes. The country?"
"It's a cologne. I'm wearing it."
As he's saying this I'm realizing that I'm inside a smell. I've climbed inside without realizing it. My student has put on so much cologne, I'm tasting "Cuba." Thank goodness there weren't any open flames around.
This kid is an interesting case. He's discovered girls in a major way but has no idea what to do. He's calling girls in class and harassing them. He tells them inappropriate things that he'd like to do. Everything is just a bit off because he doesn't actually have all the information he needs. It's sad. We're all trying to "reprogram" him. Hopefully, it works. He's a good kid but all mixed up. A steady diet of "back that thing up" doesn't help.


On another front, I'm sure you're noticing the major negativity coming toward teachers from everywhere lately. Obama's got it out for us. New Jersey is cutting a billion dollars out of education. Detroit is cutting days out of the school week because they're out of money. It's all the teacher's fault and specifically the teacher's unions. Where is this going to end? More on this to come. I'm reading Diane Ravich's book The Death and Life of the Great American School System. It deals with a lot of the stuff going on. It's nice to see Diane has come around to what most teachers would say - NCLB and relentless testing is wrong. It sucks that Obama hasn't.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My People.

I have been so busy this year. I apologize for not writing. I'm taking grad school classes and it's taking a lot of my brain this semester. Both classes require a ton of reading and some is the most boring stuff imaginable. I'm taking a leadership class and one of the books is geared to the business world. This book requires me to ride the exercise bike in my basement while I read. If I don't ride, the book puts me to sleep immediately. I've biked to Harrisburg and back while reading this week. Ahh!!! Still, I love my grad school. I really do. It keeps me sane and helps me realize that I'm capable of doing things and being an adult.

On the teaching front, my class is ridiculous. They will not stop talking this week. What do you do when all else fails? I call home, give detentions, give lunch detentions, send them to counselors, send them to administrators, have principal's conferences, enact behavior plans, keep copious anecdotal data, and do every other f@cking thing that a good teacher should and it's still bananas. I don't know.

This class is very low in maturity and skills. Their maturity issues are getting the better of me and every other teacher right now. They can't follow simple instructions and they can't get along with each other. I want to cry.

Yesterday, one of my girls was working on her current event in the computer lab. This girl, "Annabelle" says she has a story. It's a story about a 11-year-old kid being butchered in a holdup. We've been doing current events for a month and I'm tired of articles like this. There's more news than murder, mayhem, and Justin Beiber's dog. I ask her to find something else. She's in the Philadelphia Inquirer's website, there's dozens of articles to choose.
"This is the only article, Mr."

"No, there's a lot of articles online. Take another look."

"This is the only one."

"The entire Internet is there for you. Take another look."

"Guess he only wants news about his people."

"Excuse me?"

"Oh, nothing."

My people. Yes. My people. Apparently, I only accept news articles about white guys who like punk rock and roast pork sandwiches. Christ on a crutch. I'm sick of kids who just say anything. I'm at a low ebb in the teaching year. I'm wishing for June.