Put a Ding in the Universe!

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 12 2012

Go figure!

Unlike the more “garden variety” of  TFA teachers, I have five children of my own and five grandchildren.  That doesn’t mean I have figured out children.  It just means I have more experience at being astonished by them and the things they do.  It never ceases to amaze me what they come up with.

I blogged yesterday about the terrible day at school; today we went for the last day before two weeks of fall break.  As you would expect, the last day before a long break is rather relaxed, which I was actually glad to see.  I was glad to put yesterday behind me.

Today there were three periods of awards assemblies and a faculty vs. student volleyball game to end the day.  The game was a fundraiser for one of the clubs or activities and students had to pay $2.00 to attend the game.  Those who didn’t want to go (or couldn’t pay) were supposed to go to a couple of classes reserved for them.  I wanted to watch the game and I asked my seventh period students yesterday if they planned on going.  I received a bunch of non-answers at the time, so I suspected that they either didn’t have the money or didn’t want to part with two bucks to watch the game.  There are only three kids in my remedial reading class that period, so it was a no-brainer for me.  Pay six bucks and I get an hour off to watch the game.

I bought the tickets (actually they were little bracelets like you get at a carnival or a skating rink) at lunch and saved them for that class.  When they arrived, one of them had already paid for her own and I gave the other two a bracelet each.  That left me with an extra one.  On the way over to the game, I ran into one of my students from another class period.  He didn’t have a bracelet, so I asked him if he wanted to go to the game.  I gave him the bracelet and he was as happy as could be.

We entered into the gymnasium and the students were finding their friends to sit with.  I stood in the doorway for awhile, waiting to see a place to settle.  After a few minutes, one of my students comes by and said there was a seat over by him.  That’s when the crazy stuff happened.

It was weird.  All week long, I’ve been the guy out there yelling like a drill sergeant at the kids loitering outside, who were late for classes, or trying to stall so they could skip classes.  I’m the one who had a hand-sized hunk of concrete tossed at him by an unidentified student when my back was turned.  (Thank God he missed!)  I figured I would be persona non grata at any student event.  Instead, one of my students came over and told me there was a place to sit over by him.  I accepted the invitation and joined him on an open area of the bleachers.  Within moments, several students–including ones I had yelled at the most and even one whom I had written up and given Saturday school came over and joined me.  The event was casual enough that they allowed to the students to eat candy and chips in the gym while they were watching.  The kids were delighted to offer me the candy and chips that I am normally trying to get them to put away during class.  I was delighted to accept and I got to sample some Mexican candy that I had never tried before.

It’s strange!  Most days, I feel like the kids ought to hate me, because I have to be so stern and strict with them.  Every day is a monumental contest of wills that takes constant attention, redirection, and investment.  Then, in a simple volleyball game, they take me in as if I was a kind and caring parent.  Go figure!

I hope they enjoy their two weeks off as much as I’m going to enjoy mine!


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

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