Thursday, February 22, 2007

Keep your hands to yourself

Should students be allowed to touch each other? I'm not so sure. In fact, if I ran a school system I think I would enforce a strict no-touching policy. Here's why:

1. Students constantly push each other into lockers, into walls, into other students, into teachers. A junior pushed a freshman boy into me yesterday...hard. Needless to say, I did not appreciate it.
2. Male students slapping girls on the backside....and vice versa. Allowing this behavior condones sexual harassment and escalates sexual violence outside of school.
3. Pushing and horseplay often lead to "real" fights. Example: two students are "just foolin' around" when one of them pushes the other a little too hard. He responds by pushing his friend a little harder, and soon they are throwing punches and wrestling in the hallway. Some bystander, rather than stopping the fight, encourages them on, and soon everyone within a three-block radius is rushing to watch the entertainment.

People who oppose a no-touching policy might point out the benefits of a hardy handshake or a well-timed pat on the back. I would respond by saying for every handshake I've seen at my school, I've seen about five or six pushes, slaps, and punches. If I were a student, I would not feel safe in the hallway, where full-sized men-children push people around and girls constantly slap and trip their friends and enemies alike. School should install a love of learning in children; when there is too much touching, the only thing installed in students is fear. And maybe some bruises.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wiley Coyote

I have a student who is sneaky. EW loves to stir up trouble, but he flies under the radar because he wears a quiet, respectful-to-adults veneer. Other students tell me of atrocities performed by EW, but when I question him, he looks at me with innocent, innocuous eyes that make me feel bad for suspecting him in the first place. He has gotten away with countless misdemeanors over the two years I have taught him simply because proving he committed a crime is like pinning jello to the wall. Nothing sticks. He is the Road Runner to my foolish Wiley Coyote. However, unlike the hapless Coyote, I finally was able to catch EW for the first time this week.

A week ago I had created a wonderful overhead sheet that demonstrated different dialects. I used it with my first four classes, and they loved it and learned a great deal from it during a bellringer activity. At the beginning of fifth period, the overhead was on the projector. Two minutes later, it was gone. EW was one of only a couple students in the room, and my suspicions fell upon him immediately. I could not prove it however, so i simply put up a different bellringer and went on with my business.

This week, I again placed an overhead on the projector. I went into the hallway to talk to Ms. Wysopal, but this time I kept my eye on the overhead. Sure enough, right before the bell rang I saw EW snatch the overhead and crumple it up. I felt like Elliot Ness when he cornered John Dillinger. "Where are you going with that overhead?" I asked, confident even EW could not talk himself out of this one.

EW: "I was going to copy it into my notes."
Me, not buying it: "That's why i put it on the overhead, so everyone can see it."
EW: "But I can't see it from the back of the room."
Me, waffling a little: "You haven't had a problem with the other bellringers."
EW: "Yeah, i just haven't said anything about them."
Me: "Go sit down, E."

He put on a nice little show the rest of class, moving to the front of the room, raising his hand, and participating like never before. I know though, that he was purloining that overhead just to throw a monkey wrench into my teaching plans. He pulls these hi-jinks to entertain himself; sadly, literature and intensive test-prepation doesn't hold a candle to the creation of mayhem. In the end I did write EW up, because I cannot tolerate a student actively underming the educational process in my room. I understand EW's reasoning, and I even respect his guerrilla tactics and skills. I just hope that he learns to use his powers for good, say as a spy or undercover police officer, rather than as a grifter.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Super Bowl Party

Thanks to the boys of Saint Ann Street in Jackson for their hospitality during Super Bowl Weekend. It was a strong MTC showing. I am really glad that there is so much more inter-year bonding. This is much better than last year, IMO.