Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Friday, March 03, 2006
Why the Hell Didn't I Go to Clown College?
So my school has been a little...what's the word? Oh yeah, "fucking nuts". My school has been a little fucking nuts lately. I can't pinpoint the exact cause and I don't really wish to, but suffice it to say that the kids have just been fucking monstrous.
There have been fights. There's been much cursing at teachers. There have been teachers quitting. Staff morale is lower than a worm's balls in a pothole. Not a fun place. It's a K-8 school in the Bronx and the kids in the junior high portion (where I work) have decided that they can act in pretty much any way they wish. We're all worn out, which sucks especially considering that we just had a week off.
I had two incredibly disheartening experiences this week:
New York, as you know if you ever watched Fame, has performing arts high schools. Laguardia is the big one (the one in the movie) but they have them in all five boroughs. Part of my job, as a theater teacher, is to encourage kids who have talent and interest to look into admission to these high schools and to help them with the application/audition process.
The city puts on a summer program for kids in eighth through twelfth grades who are interested in the arts. This program is especially helpful for junior high school kids who want a leg up going into the performing arts school auditions.
I have a student who's been something of a problem for me since I had him last year in sixth grade. He's not a bad kid at all. He's just very popular and feels that he has to maintain a certain level of smart-ass-ity to keep up his poll numbers. This year, he's taken more of an interest in music and theater and seems very interested in going to an arts high school after next year. He seemed like a perfect candidate for the summer program, as he's had minimal exposure to theater and no real training outside my class.
I got him all the application stuff and wrote a nice little letter of recommendation and offered to take him to the audition. But the summer program is held in a high school in Manhattan and his mom, to whom I spoke yesterday, doesn't think he can handle taking the train down from the Bronx on his own. I can completely understand her concern. And I realize that this is absolutely her decision to make. But I'm so disappointed for the kid, who I think would've really gotten something out of this.
The second disheartening thing is a bit worse. One of my sixth grade classes yesterday was feelin' its oats. I had them the last period of the day, which is always iffy. On top of that, there were rumors flying around that our extended-day program (a complete clusterfuck, by the by) was going to be canceled due to heavy snow. On top of that, their homeroom teacher had been out all week and the sub, who's a nice guy, just did not have a great handle on them, which meant they were that much worse for all of their regular teachers.
So the class was unfocused and I had a hard time getting them to buckle down and rehearse the scenes they're supposed to perform next week for grades. One student in particular was running all over the place and just being a pain. When I called him on it and told him to get to work, he was just nastily disrespectful. So, after giving him a couple of warnings, I took him out in the hall and called his mom.
I don't like calling kids' parents. I never think it does all that much good. Sometimes, I tell them, "Your child has been a problem in my class" and they respond with something along the lines of, "Yeah, he does that here, too." This kid's mother seemed very nice and was disappointed to hear he'd gotten in trouble. The kid was right there when I was speaking to her and was not happy about it. He slammed the door in my face as we walked back in the room, which pissed me off. I yelled a bit then.
Last night, the mother called me. I didn't get to it in time, but I called back and she told me she hadn't actually been calling to talk to me, my number was just in her phone and she was calling around because the kid was at a friend's house and she was trying to find him.
This morning, I find out that he didn't come home last night.
The assistant principal for the middle grades was helping the parents out by speaking with other sixth grade kids and finding out if any of them have any knowledge of his whereabouts. One girl said that she had seen him this morning in the school right outside of his classroom, but she seems to have been the only one.
I know--on a rational level--that this is not, when you get down to it, my fault. Teachers call home all the time; communication with families is part of our job. But I have so many levels that aren't rational. I keep thinking that this kid could be lying in a gutter somewhere just because he pissed me off, y'know? He's got his issues in my class, but he's hardly the worst student I've ever had. I hope to whatever powers exist in the universe that he turns up okay.
This just really sucks.
I'll do a little hoping, too.
And by the way...
SO. NOT. YOUR. FAULT.
So many kids are not held accountable for anything these days. You did the right thing.
I don't normally comment on your blog, but this post begs for one. I think it's incredibly admirable that you called his mom. He needed to be held accountable for his behavior on all levels. Society today, parents today, have come down hard on teachers and, I think, taught them not to get involved because teachers find themselves "punished" for it in different ways.
I'm not a teacher but I know that being a teacher, especially to adolescents, is a demanding, difficult and sometimes unrewarding job in the sense that you don't always get recognized by those you're teaching for the effort and care you put in.
What you did, by calling his mom, might be a turning point in that boy's life. Maybe not. But the most important part is that you cared enough to try. Some people would just decide it's not worth the hassle. Good for you for continuing to care. I'll bet you've made a difference in more than a few lives because you continue to try. Thank you.
I don't normally post here but I read your blog and laugh at the political commentary. Thank you for those, by the way.
My son is a teacher in California and I'm sure can relate. I so admire all teachers because today it's so difficult. Parents don't want to deal with their kids, kids aren't held responsible for their behaviors, and teachers have a thankless job and are bombarded from so many different areas it's amazing we can get any good teachers to do the job anymore.
You did the right thing by calling his home. The responsibility for the child lies with his parents, not with you. If he didn't come home last night it's up to them to figure out why and where he is.
I hope he's okay. But it's nothing you did.
Thank you again for the job you do.
How was the Mom when she talked to you? Did she make you feel it was your fault or is this you taking on a bit of guilt due to the circumstances? I would have handled things the way you did, and would have felt exactly the way you are feeling now. Please let us know what happens.
I feel bad for the kid who can't follow a summer dream simply because of a distance issue. Have you spoken to him? Does he know he isn't going? How did he take the news?
Waiting for news...
Hang in there, Joe. Chances are good that Barry Popik has not gotten his hands on this kid.Post a Comment
Seriously, though, you can't blame thyself on this one.