Smell What I’m Cooking

Jose VilsonEducation

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