Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 24 2007

Laughing with the boys

“Miss, are you on some sort of drug?” one of my freshman boys asked.
His question was in response to my good mood, my laughter, my excited behavior. I only have a few days left with my students so I might as well let them see who I really am. I’ve actually laughed at the witty remarks of my 4th period boys, danced along to their incessent rapping of pencils on the desk just to show them that I could handle it. They weren’t going to get under my skin today with a little bit of music.
I told Kevin, one of the students whose endless energy used to result in Dean’s referrals, that he had to use his humor and energy at his job. He is just so clever that he needs to take it somewhere. He wants to be a TV chef and we joked around about me watching him years from now. I actually thought that I’d look back on him fondly despite the fact that I used to want to kill him during class. For most of the year Tim has stood at the entry to my room, waiting for the last possible second to enter the class, refusing to say hi or acknowledge me when I asked him how he was. During a parent-teacher conference, his dad explained that I looked a lot like his stepmother whom he hated and treated the same way. This week he’s turned around, asking for help and doing his work. I’ve seen a softer side of Tim, he’s opened up as a tiny freshman, confused about fractions and actually wanting to learn. Jason, another frequently referred student, has an A now, actually does the work and doesn’t talk back when I tell him to put away his portable TV player. Class is looking up. I decided yesterday to show them a cool parabolic hot dog cooker and teach them that if you fly planes in a parabola you can experience zero gravity for 30 seconds. We had fun discussing hot dogs and looking at funny pictures online. Class was actually amusing for them and at the end of class, feeling slightly guilty that we hadn’t accomplished everything we had planned I asked “everyone hold up a parabola with your arms” and they all did it. I guess that maybe they learned something and we had a lot of good jokes about flying around vomiting up hot dogs at zero gravity.
It’s ironic that my worst classes turned into the better ones, just because of the sheer amount of energy I put into them.
Next year I’m teaching four classes of Pre-Calculus and I’m putting so much more into them. I know there will be students who are behind and misplaced again but I’m so excited to differentiate and really get them motivated to do well. I’m ready to face the mission of shaping 35 kids into a good class where people do work and help each other and everyone learns. Life is looking up.

One Response

  1. I’ve recently suffered from the “I’m letting the guard down” mode. My kids are constantly commenting that I seem extra smiley. We’re doing more fun things to round out the year — though I keep telling myself that I’m connecting things to curriculum.

    I think the proof is in the pudding, so to say. Even though yesterday was the “last Friday” before exams and the kids were going nutso around the school, I was able to gather my kids into a circular study group to go over the exam review sheet. When a math teacher popped in during the last period of the day, I joked saying “What do you need? You’re interrupting our learning community.”

    I think when you can say that — which you can — than you’ve done your job. We have so much to catch up on for our students that we need to measure their growth as learners as well as their actual growth on state learning objectives.

    Enjoy the last few days before summer.

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Learning more about life than math…

Las Vegas Valley
High School

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