Monday, October 31, 2005

Required: Success at Sea!

I’m still alive. This blog is a success story: the fact that I’m working a “real job” and still managing to write something intelligible semi-nightly (even if “publishing it online” has become a hassle). In the classroom, I’ve had many successes. Student trust would be number one. I could babble about details, but the big picture gets lost in insignificant details that well-intentioned buffoons misinterpret. My students trust me. Class by class:

My honors kids are rising to the challenge. I will continue to raise the bar as the year progresses. I don’t want kids to drop out, but I don’t want the majority to suffer either. I slam them with expectation. They respond.

My Oral Comm kids are taking risks and daring to speak publicly, to “play pretend,” and to “look foolish” in front of their peers. I believe that, despite themselves, they are enjoying the oddity that is my classroom. Sometimes, I smile.

English III – well, “success” seems to elude me here. Administrative rescheduling and inconsistent attendance make this class a bureaucratic joke (or nightmare); I do my best, but these kids shouldn’t have passed English I, rendering the textbook utterly useless to me and inaccessible as hell to them – unless of course I wanted to bore them through Jonathan Edwards and Thomas Jefferson: texts well beyond their comprehension and nowhere near holding their attention. Unfortunately, there doesn’t really exist a book targeted at them: adult interests in drug, sex, and violence but with an appalling lack of word-recognition, textual analysis, and basic comprehension skills. Sure, vocabulary is a major problem, but it’s far deeper than that. No matter what they read, there’s bound to be many words they don’t. That’s fine. If I had hours to cull material, eighth period life would be another matter… If I had spent my summer prepping myself to teach them literature. An eleventh grade text book is useless… if I intend to make literature interesting and accessible to them, I would never think of starting there…