Monday, January 24, 2005

Snow Day Monday

This has to be quick, because it is about my bedtime.

Lots of people were absent today--whee! The first two periods of the day, the entire sixth grade sat in the auditorium and watched Catwoman. Just in case you're asking yourself, no, it's not really that appropriate for eleven-year-olds. But anyway. It was a fun treat for them, and for us teachers as well (to not be teaching, the film itself was a bit lame).

So we went into third period. I was a bit nervous about teaching in this condition. On the way to the train, I had to stop--twice--on the sidewalk to cough and hack and gag and spit. Lovely. My throat is still pretty sore. The coughing is acting up more and more.

I was with Class A. I let them know that they really needed to be quiet, since I can't raise my voice. They did alright. Only four kids were absent from that class, but they still did okay. I pushed back the deadline for the proposal stuff til Wednesday, and also announced a contest for best presentation.

After that, we played Apples to Apples. Right? Yeah, for like one or two rounds, I think.

At lunch, I let a small group of kids play the new Taboo for Kids. They liked it.

Half of Class B was there today. That period was quick, we talked about the proposal updates and got in some quality Apples to Apples. The class behaved very well for that. And in fact, here's a good a-ha moment I'd like to share: there's this kid in that class. Sometimes I forget about him because he's only there half the time. When he's there, he does no work and tends to be extremely disruptive, disrespectful, and other negative things.

So today, he sat himself at a table that was sort of isolated, but still acting up. I told him that I'm going to be writing a letter to all the administrators about him and his behavior, so whatever he wanted me to write, he better show it. If he wants to keep talking and disrupting, go right ahead, it will go in the letter. He nodded, but he didn't care.

Anyway, so later, I moved a few students around to tables so that we had five 'teams.' But I totally ignored that kid, moved the other kids around him to other tables, and played a few rounds not even looking at him. To his credit, he just sat there, he didn't try anything.

But after maybe ten minutes had gone by, I went over to him quietly while the other groups were deliberating their choices. I said to him, "I'd love for you to join in and play, but I just need to make sure you'll have the right attitude. Can you do that?" He nodded. So I went to the nearest table, of good students, and said, "I'm going to have him join your team. He's promised to have the right attitude." None of them protested or anything, which was a relief.

And you know what? I saw him get into it right away, leaning in, participating with his group. I didn't hear fighting, cursing, name-calling, nothing from that corner. So he kept that right attitude.

Class C I actually had for two periods. Half of that class was gone too. So they did some independent reading, I talked about the proposal stuff, and then I decided, since that class has already played Apples to Apples in class, to try out Taboo. The teams were quite large, so it was a bit unwieldy. I explained how to do it, what's on the cards and stuff. We rotated clue-giving, and every single time a kid did it for the first time, they did not understand. Even though they'd tried to yell at the other kids who didn't get it. So I had to explain the concept over and over again. Oh well. They seemed to really get into it.

Mr Principal is truly a great man. He is driven and passionate about education, but also humble. He has a real vision for the future of the school, and is implementing plans all the time. One of the great projects is the CD and DVD. Mr Principal himself did some rapping, and so did some students, but it's all positive messages about school and education. Then a bunch of students wrote, produced, edited, and starred in a music video.

Tonight was the red-carpet premiere of the DVD video. There were performances from student groups, many speakers, including the Chancellor of Schools and the Deputy Mayor of New York, and then finally the video documentary and music video.

I'll have to fill in more later, because I have to go rest now. It is late. I am full of coughing. Please work, Theraflu that I have just drunk.

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