The bell rang. “Alright everyone, we’ll pick up here on Monday. Be safe this weekend.”
“Finally,” he exhaled, “I have a moment to prepare for the rest of the day.”
After one last glance making sure the hallway was clear, he closed the classroom door. Inside, he sat alone. He cleared his throat.
“Do your work,” he said. But he wasn’t pleased. He tried again.
“Do your work.” He still thought something wasn’t right.
“Do your work.” Eek! Too much Batman. He chuckled to himself before continuing.
“Do your work.” Getting better, but still not perfect.
“Do your work. Do your work. Do your work. Do your work. Do your work. Do your work. Do your work. Do your work. Do your work.” It was subtle, but he heard improvement. Looking up at the clock, he saw his prep period was almost over.
“One last time,” he said to himself.
“Do your work.” He smiled. “Perfect! And just in time.”
The bell rang. Getting up to go stand outside his classroom door, relieved, he said to himself, “Okay, I’m ready for the students.”
“Okay,” he sighed. “So you don’t want to do division… Let’s chat for a second,” he said to the 15 year-old high school student. “Do you plan on getting a job soon?”
“No. Why would I?” she answered withdrawing and scrunching up her face in disgust.
“Don’t you want money to buy things you want that your parents won’t buy for you?” he nearly pleaded.
“My mom buys me what I want,” she snapped.
“Okay, well what about the expensive stuff. Like when I was in high school, if I wanted a $30 or $50 video game, I had to use my own money. What about that kind of stuff?” he calmly inquired.
“Umm…my mom just bought me two pair of Jordan’s for, what was it, um, like two hundred,” she stated defiantly.
He had nothing. He had no cards up his sleeve. He had no bargaining chips. There was nothing he could say that was true. She could literally never learn division and still live out her life. She literally would be able to eat, drink and be merry without knowing how to compare fractions, without knowing how to simplify improper fractions. Still, he felt that something was terribly wrong.
Where was her drive? Where was her motivation? Where was her self-worth? Where was her desire to improve herself?
Racking his brain, he could only conclude that she had never been given those things to lose. He couldn’t remember a specific day he was given them, but he knew he had them. Maybe he was just getting old.
He was hired to teach her. The problem became clearer every day. Kids like her didn’t need teachers. They’d had skillful, motivated, capable teachers their entire lives. They needed parents.
She was almost an adult, yet if it was cold enough for mittens, she couldn’t do a 12 x 12 times table. And she didn’t care.
He did it. He was so proud of himself. Well, that’s not saying much, but the point is the first day of school had come and gone. What’s that? You’d like to know what high school is like these days? …if he has time? Let me ask him. He said he’s on his way out the door, but for you “anything.”
Oh okay, I get it. He wants me to let you know he’s mumbling inaudibly. Forgive him, he was just attempting to demonstrate what he experienced all day today. He’s telling me that no kids speak loud enough to hear. Yeah, it’s a joke that just doesn’t work so well in writing, but trust me, it was effective in person.
He apologizes for the lame joke, and thinks you’d be interested to know that today’s 9th graders were born in 1999. Shocking. Actually, that year is super familiar to me. Oh, I know. That’s the year The Matrix came out! Now he wants me to let you know that he’s not joking about the mumbling. He says “literally, only 2 out of 99” 9th graders spoke loud enough for him to hear. And with this new touchy-feely way of teaching and thinking about them, he says he actually felt like it was inappropriate for him to ask them to speak up–like it was too harsh and might hurt their feelings. Crazy.
Besides the fact that they need a class on confidence before they proceed, he doesn’t think that you’d be surprised by much else. For example, the school has a dress code. One rule is no blue jeans or dark blue jeans. He’s telling me that he mentioned to a student that her jeans today seemed to be dark blue. But then he confessed that they might be okay because they were so dark they might be black. He says his wavering prompted a young man to tell the class his dark blue jeans were black. Sheesh, give ’em an inch….
Okay, he’s telling me that he has to get going now. He really would like to share more, but he literally couldn’t hear anything. You should see this, he cares so much for you that as he’s getting further away he’s raising his voice so I can still hear him. He’s yelling from a distance now. Okay, I think he just said it was just seven 50-minute periods of low-talking. At least he doesn’t look stressed.