Smell What I’m Cooking

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The Rock

I’m telling you; this homeroom of mine is going to drive me insane before the age of … however old I am. The restless nights thinking of the strategies I’ll employ to turn this ship right have become bountiful. And it’s not that I have bad classroom management. It’s that now I want to implant seeds of growth into my kids, because, as terrible a social experiment as they’re in now, I won’t feel like the class is lost if we can somehow transform those negative attitudes into positive ones. Idealistic? Of course. Realistic? I’m a believer.

For instance, today, the teachers, AP, and dean took it upon ourselves to invite our homeroom’s parents to the school so we could have a discussion on the classes’ behavior. I brought them down in the middle of class so the students were privy to how serious we are about their lack of continuity, commitment, and willingness in our class. It was a successful meeting because it wasn’t just the good kids’ parents that came: about 3/7ths of them came, which is successful considering that the rest had to work (or in a couple of cases probably didn’t care). I had already met all but one of the parents that came, so none of our correspondences was new. What was new to them (for some g_dforsaken reason) was the idea that they’re part of the same class: the individual model that has been instilled in their children is discouraging and ultimately destructive to a good class environment.

*** quick sidenote: One of the parents had asked the perennial question, “Why is it that when one student behaves badly, the whole class has to pay?” This parent had a point because the parent does an excellent job, as I can tell from her daughter, an excellent student. While everyone else on our panel responded, I bit my lip because I witnessed one mother nodding and applauding, a mother whose child is usually the very reason this problem occurs. I would have responded if my eyes weren’t so far in the back of my head from rolling them at her. ***

But anyways, while that went on, an intramural basketball tournament happened, and they were up against my “advanced” class. After the parent meeting, I went to watch the game to support. While most of my homeroom gentleman’s squad played selfishly and recklessly, the advanced class’ gentlemen played together, passed the ball often, subbed in other players, and thus thrashed my class (to my utter dismay). The advanced class had lots of practice with their teacher while my homeroom never practices much, but played lots of single ball (or a remixed version of “21“). The frustration and anger with not only the other team but with each other was almost parallel to the classroom, and I already had a million ideas to shoot at them about said the idea of sportsmanship, teamwork, and working your hardest to achieve your goals. I tried it, but it went in one ear and out another.

Is this the part in the movie where I’m sitting on the bench in my brown / plaid suit wondering if I should continue coaching? I certainly had former “players” come back to my court and tell me how much better they’re doing in math in high school, and that’s great. Now, where is the turning point in this movie? How many more losses do we incur until this crew of underdogs perceives themselves as winners? I’ve become the low man’s biggest fan, in the hopes of helping my class become the people’s champion …

jose, who thanks for Mathew for hosting the carnival of education

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 5

  1. Mes Deux Cents

    Hi Jose,

    ” I witnessed one mother nodding and applauding, a mother whose child is usually the very reason this problem occurs. I would have responded if my eyes weren’t so far in the back of my head from rolling them at her. ”

    That is so cute and funny; your reaction not the parent. :)

  2. pre_k

    well with children who knows how long its going to take in order for them to have the light bulb turn on and the lessons taught begin to make sense. usually it happens sometime later so don’t think all these life lessons you are trying to instill are being done in vain. if i remember any of my childhood i remember being defiant and rebellious at the point of contact but I also remember being grateful for the lessons that were given.

    so i am sure that despite the headache they are today they will appreciate all that you have done for them.

    sorry i couldn’t make the party.. I am broke as god knows what these days so i cannot afford to be going back and forth to too many places. However, when i get up some money and we both have some time we should hang out a little bit.

    piece and blessings

  3. Shelly

    I wish I could offer some profound words here, Jose. But alas. When I struggle to see the next “plot point”, I think of one of my favourite quotes: “Begin with the end in mind”. Helps me remember what I want and why I’m doing what I’m doing, especially when I feel like an extra in my own movie!

    Oh and thank you for that pic of The Rock! SlurpsluuurpyumYUM

  4. Post
    Author
    Jose

    MDC, that’s exactly what I mean. These parents be irkin’ me!

    pre_k, it’s all good. being broke is a state that most citizens will visit at least twice in their lifetimes. and i’m just trying to plant seeds, hoping they fertilize soon enough for it to make an effect.

    shelly, thank you for slobbering all over my blog. frankly, i thought i’d be the only man-meat to witness on my own blog (har har har).

  5. Alisha

    Don’t fret, Jose, all of your hardwork will pay off (with your homeroom) – sometimes it takes some kids a little longer to get it.

    Actually, sounds like the students in your school are pretty good – compared. I mean, they are in middle school, right?? And a bit of these shananagans (sp) should be expected. Don’t you think?

    Anyway, I’ve noticed that some of the characteristics that we (me included) try to ‘beat’ out of children, tend to be the same characteristics we demand in our leaders :)

    If you had only known me (the high school principal) in middle school. . .

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