Keeping Score

With hurricane Harvey now hitting Texas, those of us in New Orleans have wary eyes pointed westward – and still, we keep on truckin’.  It’s what we have to do, in the classroom and out of it.  Looking back at this piece, all the apprehension of watching Isaac had to have an impact on our classroom chaos – though it didn’t abate much even after our return.

Keeping those in the Texas storm path in our thoughts and prayers while we watch for updates, and think about what could come our way – no matter how minimized or unlikely –  is still an uneasy balance of living, wondering, and hoping. But it is part of life here on the Gulf of Mexico. It is all about perspective.

From August 25, 2012

So as we warily watch the path of tropical storm Isaac as it sneaks into the Gulf of Mexico with a chance of veering toward New Orleans, let us take some time now to reflect on the classroom week that was in Mr. Lucker’s English class. Read this and you’ll see why it’s hard for me to get too worked-up about the possibility of the potential chaos of a possible evacuation.

We got this.

We finally got all of our computer snafus ironed out and student class schedules completed on Wednesday, leaving me and my co-teacher Ms. A with (as of Friday’s count) 97 students. This includes two sophomore English II classes and our end-of-the-day (eh!) Intermediate Composition class featuring deeeeeelightful-but-feral-freshman. The first two days with just them (see my previous post, ‘Annnnnnnd We’re Of’  https://poetluckerate.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/annnnnnnd-were-off-2012-13-edition/) were interesting. Not productive from a lesson standpoint, but interesting.

First, we need to teach these freshmen ‘high school’ before we can even get to the ‘composition’ aspect. (Sidebar to school administrators everywhere: don’t ever…EVER schedule a freshman comp class the last period of the day. High school freshmen are not nocturnal and classroom distribution of No-Doz is no-go, no-no.)

Now, let’s go right to the ol’ End of Week Three (EOW3) scorecard for Mr. Lucker’s classes, shall we?

Our number of confirmed cases of kids with probation officers now stands at five, though we suspect at least two others of having their own ‘behavior buddies’. (I have noticed, oddly, that P.O’s don’t show up on any teacher’s syllabus supply list. Huh. Go figure.) On the plus side, I did not have to sign any court excuses this week, though I did have four students return from I.S.S. (In School Suspension) in various stages of grumpiness but without recidivist incident.

One of our freshman comp students, Mr. Potty Mouth (MPM) from my previous post in this spot, has anger management (among other) issues. During a phone conversation with his counselor (not school counselor, but a therapist working with the family) the kid’s mom, who had apparently been listening to the conversation, began profanely yelling at her son as I was giving the counselor the details on his classroom misadventures.

That escapade was proof that, as the educational pros always tell us, ‘every child can learn’.

Also on the classroom management/student behavior front, one mother I spoke with understood her son’s non-compliance issues, and spent ten minutes tearfully explaining to me that it was ‘all her fault’ for the way she handled her divorce from the kid’s father. Seems her son had come home the other day angry that an in-class writing assignment focused on telling about himself, and he abhors talking about his past, which triggered his classroom defiance. Her story/excuse for him, anyway.

Aside from the fact that mom went into TMI-mode about a minute into the conversation, I appreciated the insight, but this could be a long semester for the kid, as the tenth-grade writing curriculum is heavily weighted toward self-discovery and making a personal connection with the texts.

Writing-as-therapy: worked for a teen-mom I had last year. This guy? We’ll see.

On the plus side, we ended the week on a high-note, parent wise: I finally touched base with a dad that I had been playing phone-tag with for three days. Turns out he is a police officer, and in his words: “Mr. Lucker, I. Don’t. Play.”

I believe that, based on the change in the kids behavior just from him knowing I had left his dad a voice mail. The dad’s parting, made-my-Friday words?  “Mr. Lucker, if he even looks at you funny…you call me right away.”

We got this.

On the health front, our number of teen parents remains equally balanced at one sixteen-year-old dad and one sixteen-year-old mom, though Ms. A had to escort one of our English II students to the health center for a pregnancy test to basically confirm the results of the DIY version –  and one of my homeroom juniors learned this week that he is going to be the father…of twins.  The numbers quoted above may change.

No, we will not be distributing bubble gum cigars at any time.

Ms. A and I actually got some bonafide teaching in this week – I think some of it may have even been effective. Knowledge retained to be applied? We’ll find out this coming week. We have developed a bit of a rhythm and work well together, so I hope we are able to stay partnered, though as an inclusion teacher, she may be moved to a class with a higher percentage of students needing accommodations.

Ours may not have the official labels, but there are a sizable number of them we are sure that qualify.

We leave you with this rather curious exchange from one of our lighter morning moments with our sophomores. While preparing to leave, some students were asking if they could approach a certain issue from a bit different perspective than what we had discussed in class. Impressed with their creative thinking and trying to be affirming, I responded, “That sounds great. I’m jiggy with it.”

This was greeted with four blank stares, as a kid at neighboring table pseudo-whispered to his table, “Mr. Lucker said ‘he’s jggy with it’…what’s that mean?!”

The other kids at his table shrug and shake their heads as the bell rings. I left it at that.

Sigh. Kids these days.

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Keeping Score

So as we warily watch the path of tropical storm Isaac as it sneaks into the Gulf of Mexico with a chance of veering toward New Orleans, let us take some time now to reflect on the classroom week that was in Mr. Lucker’s English class. Read this and you’ll see why it’s hard for me to get too worked-up about the possibility of the potential chaos of a possible evacuation.

We got this.

We finally got all of our computer snafus ironed out and student class schedules completed on Wednesday, leaving me and my co-teacher Ms. A with (as of Friday’s count) 97 students. This includes two sophomore English II classes and our end-of-the-day (eh!) Intermediate Composition class featuring deeeeeelightful-but-feral-freshman. The first two days with just them (see my previous post, ‘Annnnnnnd We’re Of’  https://poetluckerate.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/annnnnnnd-were-off-2012-13-edition/) were interesting. Not productive from a lesson standpoint, but interesting.

First we need to teach these freshmen ‘high school’ before we can even get to the ‘composition’ aspect. (Sidebar to school administrators: don’t ever…EVER schedule a freshman comp class the last period of the day. High school freshmen are not nocturnal and classroom distribution of No-Doz is no-go, no-no.)

Now, let’s go right to the ol’ End of Week Three (EOW3) scorecard for Mr. Lucker’s classes, shall we?

Our number of confirmed cases of kids with probation officers now stands at five, though we suspect at least two others of having their own ‘behavior buddies’. (I have noticed, oddly, that P.O’s don’t show up on any teacher’s syllabus supply list. Huh. Go figure.) On the plus side, I did not have to sign any court excuses this week, though I did have four students return from I.S.S. (In School Suspension) in various stages of grumpiness but without recidivist incident.

One of our freshman comp students, Mr. Potty Mouth (MPM) from my previous post in this spot, has anger management (among other) issues. During a phone conversation with his counselor (not school counselor, but a therapist working with the family) the kid’s mom, who had apparently been listening to the conversation, began profanely yelling at her son as I was giving the counselor the details on his classroom misadventures.

That escapade was proof that, as the educational pros always tell us, ‘every child can learn’.

Also on the classroom management/student behavior front, one mother I spoke with understood her son’s non-compliance issues, and spent ten minutes tearfully explaining to me that it was ‘all her fault’ for the way she handled her divorce from the kid’s father. Seems her son had come home the other day angry that an in-class writing assignment focused on telling about himself, and he abhors talking about his past, which triggered his classroom defiance. Her story/excuse for him, anyway.

Aside from the fact that mom went into TMI-mode about a minute into the conversation, I appreciated the insight, but this could be a long semester for the kid, as the tenth-grade writing curriculum is heavily weighted toward self-discovery and making a personal connection with the texts.

Writing-as-therapy: worked for a teen-mom I had last year. This guy? We’ll see.

On the plus side, we ended the week on a high-note, parent wise: I finally touched base with a dad that I had been playing phone-tag with for three days. Turns out he is a police officer, and in his words “Mr. Lucker, I. Don’t. Play.” I believe that, based on the change in the kids behavior just from him knowing I had left his dad a voice mail. The dad’s parting, made-my-Friday words? “Mr. Lucker, if he even looks at you funny…you call me right away.”

We got this.

On the health front, our number of teen parents remains equally balanced at one sixteen year old dad and one sixteen year old mom, though Ms. A had to escort one of our English II students to the health center for a pregnancy test; to basically confirm the results of the DIY version.  And one of my homeroom juniors learned this week that he is going to be the father…of twins.

No, we will not be distributing bubble gum cigars at any time.

Ms. A and I actually got some bona-fide teaching in this week – I think some of it may have even been effective. Knowledge retained to be applied? We’ll find out this coming week. We have developed a bit of a rhythm and work well together, so I hope we are able to stay partnered, though as an inclusion teacher, she may be moved to a class with a higher percentage of SPED students.

Ours may not have the official labels, but there are a sizable number of them we are sure qualify.

We leave you with this rather curious exchange from one of our lighter morning moments with our sophomores. While preparing to leave, some students were asking if they could approach a certain issue from a bit different perspective than what we had discussed in class. Impressed with their creative thinking and trying to be affirming, I responded, “That sounds great. I’m jiggy with it.”

This was greeted with four blank stares, as a kid at neighboring table pseudo-whispered to his table, “Mr. Lucker said ‘he’s jggy with it’ – what’s that mean?!”

The other kids at his table shrug and shake their heads as the bell rings. I left it at that.

Sigh. Kids these days.

Annnnnnnd, we’re off… (2012-13 Edition)

“The first quality that is needed is audacity”.
Winston Churchill

The first full week of school is in the bag. Seven days of fun including the previous Thursday and Friday, and I have already amassed a fairly impressive collection of firsts for the year from my freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

To wit:

Friday provided me my first “excused-from-class-for-a-court-appearance” slip to sign and my first knowledge that one of my students has a P.O. to report to. Also my second, as a mom I spoke with confirmed that her son, as he stated in class, is on probation.

Thursday was my first “I don’t like you!” exclamation, though if you count the mumbled versions of that opinion, the kid who yelled it at me was probably only about number nine on that list.

Expectations aren’t always expected (or appreciated) by my students.

This week also provided me with a personal first: two classes at the same time. A fluctuating enrollment plus a computer system failure that has bollixed up our scheduling system has me losing my fifth period English II class, and gaining an Intermediate Composition class. The change was supposed to come next Monday, but instead, the system dumped my English II students out, gave us (I have an inclusion teacher in my classroom this year) the Comp kids. At least, in the computer system.

Only the English II kids weren’t reassigned yet, so we got them all from Wednesday on; 43 kids and two teachers Wednesday, down to 38 total bodies Thursday, back to 41 Friday. (Keep in mind it’s August, in New Orleans, in a forty-plus year old building with A.C. of the same vintage, last class of the day. Glad Friday was a cloudy afternoon with less sun beating down on our side of the building.)

Thursday (day six of school, and this is a new personal record, I believe) also marked the first ejection of the year from my classroom. It was that kid’s second day in my classroom. On the plus side, he is the early and clear front-runner for this year’s Excessive Use of Profanity in Casual Conversation award. Kid didn’t blurt our anything in anger, just kept upping the ante with more profane comments, questions and requests.

It was his final ‘request’ that got him tossed: “Hey, ****sucker, come here.”

I was able to use the kid to send a message, though.

Ignoring his highly inappropriate request as semi-noted above, I kept speaking with the student I was talking with at the time, not acknowledging Mr. Potty Mouth (MPM) in any way. I then walked back toward my desk, pushed the call button to the office and asked for someone to remove a kid from class.  Those (the other 37 and my co-teacher, Ms. A) farther back in the room that didn’t hear MPM’s ‘request’  looked at me quizzically as they didn’t know what was going on up front, and I was not angry nor in confrontation mode. The Comp kids up front (MPM’s group) saw and heard it all.

Yeah, we got your ‘come here,’ kid.

When one of our disciplinarians, Ms. R, arrived at the door, I greeted her warmly, summoned MPM to join us, adding a slighty exaggerated, curled-finger ‘Come here, punk’ gesture. While he meekly protested, I informed her that her ears might get singed as MPM had quite the profane vocabulary. She smiled, nodded, said, “Oh, that will not be a problem with us, Mr. Lucker.” as she firmly told him to button and tuck in his shirt as she led him down the hall.  With that I closed the door, glared silently for just a moment at the class, smiled. I then went over to someone who had previously raised their hand to answer their question. Rest of the day was relatively uneventful. Message delivered; we don’t play.

Which leads to my hands-down winner in the Strangest Student Conversation of the Week category.  Thursday morning, I was standing at the front of my junior homeroom class, leaning on a table, chatting with a student and waiting for the announcements to come on. My arms were folded across my chest, and as it was early in the day, I was pretty fresh and at ease, coffee in travel mug at hand. Then came this exchange:

Girl #1: “Mr. Lucker…why you so calm?”

Me: (Puzzled, raising eyebrows, Groucho-style and glancing around with cartoonish suspicion) “Is there an earthquake? Is the building on fire? Something else going on I should know about? Any reason…I shouldn’t be calm?”  Amused, I cocked an eye and looked at her. She frowned.

Girl #2: (An English student of mine last year) “He is always like that! He will bitch at you, but he hardly even raises his voice! It’s weird!”

I could not keep from smiling, and I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

Girl #1: “You upset, you yelling, but you calm. That’s creepy.”

Girl #2: “Oh, it truly is!”

Girl #1: “Well, I don’t like that! That’s…weird!”

Me: “What can I tell you? Sorry, ladies.” I had to turn away and shuffle some papers to keep a straight face. ‘Calm yelling.’  It is, apparently, what I am noted for.

And, we’re off.