Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
The Kids Are Alright (Except for the Psychotic Ones)
I had an okay day at work today. I need to make this clear. My job, while far from what I'd be doing if a genie popped out of my beer bottle and granted me three wishes, is not the worst job I've ever had. (That honor would go to my first teaching gig, about which I've taken great pains to forget as much as I can.)
I write all this because I know that my family will read what I'm about to describe and be upset. So I'll just say up front: it's all good.
Anyway, most of the kids I teach are your average, everyday middle-schoolers. This means that they're unfocused, surly and heavily into social drama of the "so-and-so said such-and-such about me/my friend/the color blue and so I must now yell at them in the middle of your class" variety. You wouldn't necessarily want them over to your house for brunch, but they're not bad.
Mixed in with them, there are a group of students in every class I have that go that little bit further toward what you'd have to, I guess, label outright hooliganism. The kids that do absolutely no work, freely curse each other out at full volume and more than occasionally get up out of their seats and run around the room throwing paper balls at each other. They're a hassle, but you deal with them as best you can and sometimes they even settle down long enough to turn in an incredibly half-assed assignment.
There are others, though, that just plain antagonize you. This isn't just misbehavior. It's not merely copping an attitude when you tell them to sit down. These kids have made it their mission to push you as far as they can.
I've got a handful of these little dears right now and I'm not sure exactly what the fuck to do with them.
I've got the kid who, during the conference with his father in November, actually stuck his tongue out at me, mocked me as I spoke and flipped me off when his father wasn't looking. That was particularly frustrating, because every time his dad would look over, all he'd see was his son hovering between boredom and respect. This kid continues to be a pain in class, doing absolutely zero work and doing his damnedest to disrupt what other students are working on.
Then there's the little gem who, over the last couple of weeks, has decided that he needs to derail my lessons every day. He gets up besides me and does a mocking Snoopy to my Lucy. He follows me around the room and repeatedly tells kids to whom I'm talking not to listen to me. He erases writing assignments I've put on the board. Yesterday, he took to making fun of my age (a point about which I'm utterly not sensitive). So he made lame joke after lame joke: "Hey Dusty! Aren't you supposed to retire?" "Hey Dusty! You want a cane?" I believe "dusty" is meant to connote an advanced state of decay. The problem isn't what the kid says to me, but that his disruption of my lessons is fucking irritating.
I'm dealing, as well, with a student who's not even one of my friggin' students anymore. This is a kid who I taught in a special ed class last year. He either graduated to high school or got kicked out of our school. It's possible he dropped out, but I don't know and, to be frank, I don't really give a dried-out rat turd. He's not my student anymore. But he and a friend of his pass me many afternoons as I walk to the train and he's made it his business to yell at me, "Hey! Mr. Wack-Off!"
Now, of all these kids, this one's the most puzzling. He doesn't have me anymore. Why in the name of No Child Left Behind would this kid give enough of a shit to yell at me? He should be completely and utterly indifferent. I just don't get why he bothers. Did I really have that big of an impact on the kid that he's got to take the time to do this?
In the end, I suppose I should take all this as a sign that I'm really reaching these kids. Reaching them enough to make them completely fucking hate me. Hurray!