Wednesday, February 29, 2012

leap day!

So I have to put in a post today because today only happens every 4 years! Because I don’t really know what to write about anymore I’ll just walk you through today.
Went to bed last night around 11:30 having fun conversations with my roommates talking about our kids, what we want to do this weekend and complaining about some of the issues we have with our job.
This morning I overslept a little and was up at 5:30 but still caught the bus in time to get on the train (a 45 min ride) this is where I normally catch up on sleep, some how I always seem to wake up just in time to get off at my stop. Today however I woke up with a ton of energy and listened to music on the way to work and when I got off the train I heard the same evangelist that is always at the train stop rain or shine yelling “Proverbs twenty-nine twooooooo!!” over and over again.  Instead of taking the bus to the high school I decided to walk because it was a beautiful morning.
In the morning my team stands in a circle and makes announcements and we all check in to see how everyone is feeling, then at around 7:40 we head downstairs to welcome all the students and staff.  We even have songs we sing to them if it’s a big enough group walking in. Its pretty goofy but fun and we always get mixed reviews from the students, more of them like it now than they did at the beginning of the year when they didn’t know what to think of us.
At 8:00 I went to my first hour class and got stopped by one of my favorite students who I don’t have in any of my classes because she’s a Junior but she told me about how last night a student was shot a dozen time in a gang related jumping.  He was also a Junior but was in some freshman classes, I didn’t know him but he was in one of my teammates classes and I guess he was quite the character, all the teachers had already written him off.  This is the first time this year we’ve lost a student to a gang altercation and the school ran as normal which seemed very bizarre to me.
My math class went well today we were reviewing percentages, combining like terms and fractions.  Not to long ago I showed my students a wonderful dance Alan (my brother) taught me.  Its has been a major hit. All the students are asking me to do and to show them how to do it. When they finish there work I treat them to it, it’s pretty darn funny and now some of the students call me “Mr. Vending machine” (vending machine is the name of the dance)
After hours 1,2 and 3 which lasts from 8-11:25 I headed downstairs and overheard a student say he was going to kick the teacher I work with “in the teeth” and I said really your going to kick Mr.______ in the teeth?”, “Yeah!” he said “and I’m finna kick you in the teeth too!” He obviously was not in a good mood but I couldn’t just walk away and leave the conversation on such a negative note, especially with a student I’d never met before “Really, you think you can kick that high?” “I know I can!” he yelled at me “ok” I said and lifted my hand up “see if you can kick my hand” so he tried it and sure enough he could kick that high “Uh oh, I guess I should have  a mouth guard in around you” His demeanor changed pretty quick and he laughed, “naw, don’t worry about it we good” so we bumped fists and went to class.
I’ve found that the quickest way to change a students mood is to surprise them. So many of them have plenty of reasons to be angry, so they are always looking for a fight or a reason to laugh…I prefer the latter J
Well I have to go I will continue walking through my day later, God Bless! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the other story

Here’s a story about another once very difficult child, we’ll call him Fred.  Fred refused to work with me, he is on my “academic focus list” if you’ll remember that means I work with this student individually to make sure he stays on task and gets his grades up.  Day after day I would ask Fred if he would like help on his math and he would either pretend I wasn’t there or say something to the effect of “leave me alone, I aint stupid!”
After a while I realized I would have to change my tactic, so every day I would bring him a pencil and paper, place it on his desk and say “Here ya go Fred, the problems are on the board” most of the time he would ignore me, other times he would say “Man you know I aint finna do this” and to that I would respond, “well that’s too bad Fred, I guess you’ll be taking this class again next year”.
One day we had the same short discussion and he said “I won’t be in this class next year I’m transferring I’m finna move to New York to live with my sister”, “oh that’s nice” I responded “ but you’ll still have to take this class, your grades transfer with you ya know”. “Not if you move out of state!” was his rebuttal.
 Well after I let him know that it doesn’t matter where he goes if he wants to graduate he’s going to have to pass algebra at some point he seemed pretty disappointed. So the next day when I gave him some paper and pencil he sad rather rudely “Hey! How you do this?” So I sat with him and showed him how to do multiple math problems for the next 20 min. I didn’t get him to do any work himself but he watched very closely and wasn’t distracted by anything or anybody even though it was an extraordinarily loud day in class. 
I told the rest of the team about the sudden progress and with there help, in less than a week he was coming to our room almost everyday after school to homework help, not doing to much work but at least he no longer hates us! One day after school he waited outside and jumped me, pelting me with snowballs (there were about 4 other boys too) so we had a nice snowball fight and Fred is much more likely now to do his work in class…if I nag him for a couple of minutes.
He hasn’t been around lately, I’m pretty sure he’s been suspended for whatever reason. Well I better get back to work, its never a boring day! God Bless

Monday, February 6, 2012

a work in progress

Life is pretty good at school right now, everyday is still a headache but I’ve developed some really good relationships with many of my kids.  For instance there is one student, we’ll call her Missy, she wanted nothing to do with me at the beginning of the year. In class she is extremely loud and obnoxious.   If you remember in a much earlier blog I talked about students running across desks. I was talking about Missy.  The girl is crazy! But she is always happy and doesn’t seem to really care about anything. She just does what she wants when she wants and if she gets suspended…whatever. 
So you can imagine how hard it might be to get a child like that to do some work. Every day I would ask “Missy, you want me to show you how to do these math problems?” “Naw!” she’d respond “you goofy”. So I would leave her be and work with other students. Finally one day I caught her cheating so instead of taking the paper away (I’ve done that to students before, the result is not pretty), I sat next to her and asked “do you expect to get credit on a paper you didn’t do?” She just laughed and said “yeah, Mr. Andy”.  “I can’t do that, cheating is an automatic F.”  Well she was ready to get in a yelling match, but I stopped her and said “Why don’t you show me you can do a problem by yourself, or I can show you how to do it and we can work out the rest of the problems”  “ ’ight, Mr. V show me how to do it”  So I did, and now she lets me work with her, and she’s always talking with me and even asked me (jokingly) if I’d be her godfather. So now that’s what she calls me. We definitely have our off days and she is very disrespectful to my other teammates and her teachers but at least she’s willing to try and learn. A HUGE improvement.
I’ll tell you all about a young man who gave me almost as much trouble in my next post.
Love ya!