Friday, January 06, 2006

Sad news: Star the Laptop is gone. I hadn't used the poor thing in three weeks, and I felt guilty owning something so expensive (relatively) and letting it lie there. It was a tough decision and I resisted at first. But I know it's for the best. I'll always remember her. :(

Good news: It's Friday! Whee!

Coming back to school after time off is really difficult for my life as a teacher. On a real vacation, you return to normalcy. You have time for yourself. You have time to run errands. You can sleep in or stay out. You can see movies and go shopping. In short, you get to be a human again.

So obviously it's a rough awakening to face the grind of teaching once more. You put on that mask of toughness and strictness, even if you're bored or tired. You look dispairingly at the piles of homework that grow every night. You watch your desk continue to be buried beneath that homework, books, book reports, staff memos, project information, lessons, lesson books, calendars, snacks, and on and on.

All this considering, my return was fairly easy. I had one less day than everyone else, because of the Pointless Tuesday Trial. My throat was really sore at the end of Wednesday, and I was afraid of oncoming sickness, but I think that I just overdid my speaking harsh/yelling voice, in ensuring that the boundaries were redrawn. Plus, I had a coverage.

This coverage pissed me off. I started off with MadLibs, but a few boys refused to follow the rules--shutting up until it was your turn. So I made them take out paper and write a quiz. First, the eight parts of speech: definition, example, use in a sentence. Second, the parts of a four square.

I will freely admit that I could not tell you exactly which parts of speech are the eight parts of speech. I know verbs, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, objects, prepositions, articles, conjunctions, and there's more I'm forgetting. Clearly I should do some research. Actually, I don't need to; my students know only a couple and that's tenuous at best, for some of them. All the rules -- and I don't even know all of them! I wouldn't know a comma splice if it hit me in the face -- that I know only serve to remind me how much the children now do NOT know, because of that wonder of wonders, Balanced Literacy. Blah blah.

Don't need to talk politics, sorry, yeah, grammar.

Anyway, about one-fifth of the class (all girls, interestingly), immediately got to work on this information, really making an effort. Most of the rest kinda faked it like lazy bums. A handful of boys all at one table kept grousing about, "We don't know this. We never learned this. Why we gotta learn this stuff we never use?"

To that, I walked to the table and asked, "Do you mean to tell me you've never used words before?" He replied disdainfully, "I talk with words all the time." I stared at him pointedly, willing him to see that DUMBASS, you DO need this stuff, and he just looked back blankly.

Overall, I did not hide my shock and dismay (near disgust) at their claims of ignorance. By the way, this was an honors-level class. I was like, "Seriously, if you don't know this by now, that is just ridiculous."

So the next day, their teacher was in the teacher's lounge, and I said, "Oh hey, I had your class yesterday!" She said, "That was you? They were so mad; they were like, 'she got mad at us 'cause we didn't know this stuff! it wasn't fair!'" She said, "I said, 'what do you mean, you don't know this stuff?!"

We laughed incredulously at their indignance, that it's MY fault for THEM not knowing something. Sheesh.

One more week until the EL@ test. Next week is gonna be straight crazy. Pr@ctice ones and more instruction. I also want to do some breathing exercises and meditation with them, and some motivational self-talk. But we'll see. I know that last year I felt too stupid to really do that stuff. Ha. Like I actually have any pride. Please.

There's homework to grade. There's a lot of grades to input if I want to tell the students what their second-quarter grades are looking like. If I was a good person I'd do that this weekend. But I might be a big fat bum instead. There's too many clearance sales going on, and Mama needs some new socks and pants that actually fit and ugly/comfortable shoes! What an exciting life I lead!

1 comment:

NYC Educator said...

I think it's far more important to know how to use this stuff than to know what it's called.

There's a theory of descriptive, as opposed to prescriptive grammar that suggests everyone knows their first languages perfectly, with whatever regional variations. If you accept that, as I do, than everyone perfectly speaks and understands the language spoken around them.

We need to teach kids the language of writing, and we need to teach them rules as they apply to written language. Still, you'll find many, many Americans who couldn't tell you future perfect progressive from a hole in the ground, yet use it flawlessly on those rare occasions the need arises.