Put a Ding in the Universe!

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 12 2012

But what do you do when they’re not “your” kids?

We have a huge problem at school.  Our school is essentially a construction site and one of the teachers was injured by a falling window back in August.  She has been out on workman’s comp ever since.  Her classes have been either tended to by subs or by us covering her classes.  For these classes, there has been no curriculum, no instruction, no plan for going on two months.  The class is a zoo–the children are like wild animals.  Worst of all, the class is right next door to mine in the portables outside.

Thus when it comes time for the change of class during the day, the kids loiter around, harass my students, invade my class, and cause general mayhem.  They are virtually incorrigible and, after two months, they probably would have to undergo a basic training style boot-camp to become compliant again.

The class is all 7th graders–the class that the veteran teachers at the school said was the worst to go through the school in 35 years.  To get any kind of compliance, we have to yell like drill sergeants at this group.  The problem is that the attitude and behavior of this group–five classes worth of students–is affecting every other class in school.  As they disperse to go to other teachers, they’re carrying this sense of anarchy with them.

Today, a group of them were meandering down to another class at the end of the row of portables during my planning period.  I heard them playing around long after the tardy bell rang so I went out to hurry them on.  They replied with insolence and defiance and I had to shout at them to get them moving at all.  At the end of the period, these same students loitered around the class they had just departed, in no hurry to go to their 6th hour class.

As I was trying to get my own 6th period kids in the door and settled in.  The moment I turned my back to the outside and started to enter my room, a large chunk of concrete smashed on the inside of the door just barely above my head.  It came from the group of students I had hollered at earlier, but I could not tell who it was.  I thought of pursuing them and grilling them, but I knew they’d not snitch on the culprit.  If I abandoned my own class for a few minutes to do that, I knew it would be like “Lord of the Flies” by the time I got back.

We work so hard at investment, trying to get the kids to buy into big goals, and to simply treat one another with some civility, that it’s terrible to see it all get undone by a situation like this.  They can’t keep substitutes in the class.  The kids are too bad and getting worse daily.  The administration only has a few tools to use–like suspensions. Most of these kids could care less whether they’re at school or not.  If they don’t do something with this group soon, this class will disrupt the entire school.  Someone will get injured or worse.

But what do you do when they’re not your kids?

About this Blog

YOTFAO BACTAG = You only teach for America once, but always challenge the achievement gap.

High School

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