It has been quite a week. On the one hand, I’ve been frustrated to the point of near-incineration by some of my younger students (and one or two of the older ones, too, now that I think of it). On the other, though, I’ve had an absolutely exhilarating week. Let me try to break it down.
First, the frustration (it’s always good to get the bad stuff out of the way first, right?). I’ve got this kid (oh, and as an aside, Auntie said the other day that she loves it when I start a conversation with “I’ve got this kid…“). Let’s call him Peter, shall we?
Peter is a very quiet student who, to date, hasn’t turned in much work at all. In fact, he’s missing 13 of the 16 assignments I’ve given. He handed in a reading comprehension quiz that said simply, “I haven’t read enough of the book to understand these questions.” He doesn’t speak in class, doesn’t have an answer when I call on him, and very often spends at least part of the class with his face on the desk.
I’ve taken the kid aside a number of times to express my concern, and each time he assures me he’s “fine.” I’ve been in pretty close touch with his mother who, it seems, is willing to give both Peter and the school the support we’ll need to get him set straight. He’s clearly not fine.
The other day, I stayed after school to help Peter get on track (in fact, I came back to school to do this). I sat him down and had him read out loud to me so I could be assured that he could, in fact, read (he can). I then discovered that, in two and a half pages of relatively easy text, there were more than a dozen words that he didn’t understand.
Houston, we have a problem.
Anyway, I promised Peter that I would work with him, that I would be available and energetic and understanding, and that I’d do whatever he felt he needed from me to help him succeed. I expected that he would make an effort to meet me – if not halfway – than at least part of the way.
Yeah, that? Not so much.
The following day, the boy didn’t hand in his homework (which consisted of a single paragraph). He didn’t hand in the class work. He DID, however, have enough time and motivation to write a nearly two-page note with one of his table mates.
I don’t fucking think so.
The boy and the table mate were invited to the director’s office first thing Thursday morning. She has put them both on academic probation and has required that they write a genuine and complete apology to me. We’ll see how that goes. They’ve got to know that they’re going to be on my radar for the next little while, and I’m in touch with both of their parents.
Now, for the good stuff!
My III/IV class is kickin’ it, you guys! I asked them to do a lot of really heavy thinking this week – a lot of reaching and connecting and analyzing and investigating – and Goddess love them, they DID it. I’ve got energetic engagement from them. I’ve got them tossing out ideas that aren’t quite fully formed yet, but they know that they’re on to something, so they say it anyway. That says to me that they’ve got faith that someone’s going to pick it up and run with it, and that thrills me; I’m working to get these kids to a point of being a true academic community, where we support and encourage and challenge each other, and I think, after what I’ve seen this week, that we’re mostly there.
I’m betting that my students don’t think they did much work last week – I didn’t ask any essays or projects of them (that’s happening this coming week) – but MAN! did they work! I’m so terribly proud of them.