Current/Recent Reading List

01 September 2006

Squire, bring me my battle gear. Now!!

You may have gotten the mistaken impression that I know what I'm doing in the classroom. I may have gotten that mistaken impression from time to time as well. But the kiddies, they can humble me real quick-like. I done got played the other day by my honors class.

So, break out the Clausewitz, the Caesar, and the Sun Tzu. Now it's on.

You see, I taught 98% of these kids, in this exact same grouping, last year as freshmen. I loved them, loved them, loved them, but at times they made me want to go Bobby Knight on them. They were whiny, spoiled, immature. And, well, did I mention whiny? But they blew the roof off their End of Course Tests, and all was well that ended well. I would later see them in the spring semester, and they would say, "Oh, Mr. P., I hope I have you for English every year!", or "Mr. P., you have to be our teacher next year!" They participated in Shakespeare Club, they came by for visits, they begged to get into yearbook class, and they came to get me so they could show me their cool world history projects. We're pretty much talking Kumbaya stuff here, folks. Well, they got their collective wish, and I believe most of them certainly were excited that we would reunite this fall

Up until yesterday, they had been fabulous for me over the first week. They were more attentive and less talkative, and I was pretty much prepared and on top of my game. But on Thursday, after reviewing some of what was likely to be on the Les Mis test (now put off 'til Tuesday due to Tropical Storm Ernesto), I found myself in that terrible no-man's land where, with 20 minutes left in class, I didn't really want to start something too involved, though I had something planned. They certainly weren't in the mood to switch gears, so they pleaded and pleaded that we not move on to writing. I feigned resistance, but they smelled blood. "I know, Mr. P. Let's do a review game, like we do in Biology!" Said game involved everyone standing, and having to remain standing, until correctly answering a question.

So I, being weak, fell for it. The problem with these impromptu "games" is that about half the class will be willing to participate, and the other half won't and will be acting on different agendas. Before I knew it, kids were using their standing positions as excuses to sneak a couple of desks over to their friends, and then most weren't listening, or caring, and things got a little too noisy, and some kid tried to pull out a Coke bottle. And right as I started to correct everyone's behavior, I saw the assistant principal in the hall walk by, do a double-take, peek her head in the room, and then continue her stroll. Yes, of course it would happen that way.

The assistant principal thing is really no big deal, but what really pisses me off is that I gave in, and got burned, if just in my own mind. And I can't even offer a lame excuse, like, "I didn't have a good feel for these kids yet."

So, let the wars begin. There will be no more breathing space, no more unstructured activities. Any games will be played under dictatorial rules, and any free time over 2-3 minutes will be filled by me blathering on about something. I'm sure the old whining will soon commence.

I already have gotten some measure of revenge. I'm counting nine 0's and two 60's among the grades on their first written assignment for homework. Can't wait for Tuesday.

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