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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The "Real" Student
Hello everyone. This is my last entry to The Adventures of Funkyman from the confines of the Middle School at Dana Hall. The school year hath ended and I'll be writing from home or office here on out, and I'll try to faithful every week but no promises.
Yes, I write this blog during a 90 minute Study Hall every week. I proctor about 20 girls who are supposed to be sitting 4 to a table, working alone and quietly. I am a good proctor, and I run a tight ship. That's a difficult thing to do without gaining the ire of your students in the process. Nevertheless, respect is key, both from me and for me. I think I have acheived this.
It does make me think back about when I was a student and how some of my teachers were NOT so successful at this endeavor. How do you make a bunch of kids behave and respect you simultaneously? Ah, the great mystery of parenting and teaching. These are my recollections of people from High School who made it difficult to do both.
My sophomore year English teacher was funny. He loved to talk about the "real" student.
"Chapters 3 through 6 are due tomorrow, but the real student will have finished the whole book."
"Your papers are due Wednesday, but the real student will have it on my desk by the end of class."
"This exam will be 90 minutes, but the real student will only need 30."
Cute. But one day he made a joke not so funny. Sophomore year focused on literature surrounding racial issues - Huckleberry Finn, Black Like Me, etc. He used to like to call me "Jim" and say "Black Like Coleman." But one day, I had to leave the classroom early to prepare for a school concert, and as I left, he said "Finally! Now we can really talk about this stuff!" Needless to say, I was the only African American in the room. Needless to say, I had a hard time laughing.
My high school Bio teacher had to teach this required course to 40 young men every period of the day. A daunting task in itself. However, she did not make it easy for herself. One day while reviewing our exam, a student pointed out that she graded incorrectly. He opened the book, quoted the page and passage in front of the whole class, and she responded, "Well I'm the teacher, and I say it's wrong." Not a good way to earn your students' respect. Therefore, we were not always the best behaved bunch. I tried very hard to stay out of trouble, but one day my lab partner decided to be crazy.
We were dissecting fetal pigs. My lab partner proceeded to break the pig's neck and spine, making it more maneuverable. Then he made the pig do the Snake, the Running Man, and several other Hip-Hop and breakdance moves. I was laughing hysterically. It was so funny that when the teacher called us to the front of the classroom to scold us, we were still laughing. She took it as disrespect, but we were past the point of no return. A teacher needs to know the difference. Sometimes, the kids need to calm down first before you scold them.
Wow, my freshman year Latin teacher. What can I say? He didn't know Latin! His pronunciation was often wrong. He often saw students blatantly cheating, and would say "Hey, stop that!" Hey, stop that? But the worst was when he slammed my head into a desk for talking. He had demanded the room be completely silent for the remainder of class. The kid behind me took my pencil off of my desk and I said "Give me my pencil." I didn't even see it coming. The teacher grabbed my head, pushed it back over the desk and beat my head into the desk behind me several times, saying "I said be quiet!" In retrospect, I could have sued the school, but at the time I was just amazed it occurred at all. The guy had serious issues.
No story here. I loved all of my Math teachers.
Ah, Band. I actually had a good relationship with my Band teacher. However, he had a troubled personal life and often took it out on us. I won't go into detail, but to give you a taste . . . One day I was whistling in the Band Room, and he came in and said "NO WHISTLING IN THE BAND ROOM!" Let's all think about the logic of that statement. I'll wait. . .
Anyway, I love my High School and I owe my great education to its commitment to excellence. I also believe these positive and negative experiences helped shape me into a better person and a better teacher. Thanks to you all.