Stars Directing Our Fate

Jose Vilson 7 Comments

raining.jpgI’m already in a funk on Friday because, frankly, I didn’t get enough sleep. I can’t talk about why I was in this public space, but it made me seriously question my own mental health during this change of weather. The frigidness must be getting to me. Yet, maybe it’s cyclical: after all, the children as of late have come back more talkative and disruptive than ever. When the students fail to meet me halfway, I have a hard time reasoning why I even want to reach further other than my actual care for the job.

Because teaching a “problem” child is a completely different animal than just seeing them in the hallway in the hopes of counseling him. Those are two different positions, often in conflict with one another especially with matters of discipline. While I appreciate the love and adoration I have from the students on the floor, I also need to make sure that students aren’t pushing the agenda by getting in more trouble and matriculating into my class as the “last resort.” I already have enough children who’ve been red-flagged, and unfortunately, I don’t have either the time or the space to pull them aside, shake them a bit, and show them the tenets of being a good student.

So during homeroom, I had to give permission slips to my Penny Harvest Committee kids who’ve at least put in some work during the last 2 months. They deserve the trip for missing lunches and putting in work during school. One of the students, A, says, “And what about me?”

“What about you?” I retort. Because after all, he wasn’t part of the original committee. I would have compensated him the same way I compensated the young gentlemen who brought down those 27 or so Penny Harvest bags from the 5th floor to the ground floor: treats like oatmeal raisin granola bars or Reduced Fat Oreos. Snacks for an honest 10 minutes’ work. Finito. But instead, he got nasty behind my back, and reaching from my underbelly through a portal of Hades, I say,

“Sir, if you have something to say, I’d suggest you say it to my face.”

Sometimes I forget how hood I get. My bad. But frankly, I was already incensed with rage towards a kid who, after all the whining and self-righteousness he spoke with behind my back, I needed to bring him back to planet Earth. I kept mumbling under my breath to make the kids believe let the kids know I was crazy, and then after calming down, I said, “Line up outside.”

And I tell you what: it was hard as hell coming in today and bouncing back from that moment. I thought of ways to make amends in my classroom for those brutal situations. I also thought how I’ve had the most patience and tolerance for their indiscretions, so maybe it has to come from both sides of the situations. But only I have the ability to help undo the students’ bad habits because they’re at a very selfish stage in their lives, their consciousness of others’ sentiments not at its full potential. I’m also culpable for that environment. I can’t simply demand that they behave a certain way, but do my best to reverse behaviors that have until now made them unsuccessful.

I still came in today, and I still taught. I just know this is another test I’ve yet to pass for the year. Let’s see what I come up with in a few days’ time …

I’ve got stars directing my fate
And I’m praying it’s not too late …

jose, who’s finally a published author …

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 7

  1. Frumteacher

    I guess it has to do with the time of the year. My students are extremely hyper, talk back, don’t work, it’s so frustrating and I don’t know how to get them do what I want. It’s like you say: I don’t have the energy nor the will to go out of my way more than I already do in order to get them back on track. I just count the days until winter break and hope things will get easier after that.

  2. e

    congrats on becoming a published author

    it’s hard to keep your cool, not keep it too real when you’re already reached that point (in the day, or in life). but i wouldn’t beat myself up for that “if you got something to say say it to my face homeboy” because honestly, our kids need to know you can’t run around talking sh*t to authority figures and nothing’s gonna happen. when he’s older and tries to get slick with a thug, or cop (same thing? ;-) ) he’s gonna get his lil butt beat. maybe with your kids, you may need to get a lil gully to discipline them in a way they can understand. *shrugs*

    keep you head up homie,
    e.

  3. pre_k

    well let me first say congrats on getting some of your work published. which poem did you decide to get published. oh and by the way you had a poem up for an away message that was i was trying to read until you kept switching it then signing off.. how rude.. haha. seems like some kids have entitlement complexes.. i must say that you handled that situation better than me.. that is why i could never be a teacher.. cause me and that kid would have probably had to have a 5 to 10 in the hallway… anyway may you find the patience to deal with such things… piece and blessings.

  4. Post
    Author
    Jose

    @ Frum: I agree. It’s been happening a lot lately, but I need to change my energy a little, because if not, then it’s going to be a complete mess for the next 2 weeks.

    @ e: Well most of the teachers I know say they’ll “hit” a kid, but they really wouldn’t, so you’d fit right in.

    @ pre_k: thank you, thank you, and that’s the word I was looking for: entitlement. Damn, thanks my trusty hombre in crime.

  5. Hugh O'Donnell aka Repairman

    Congratulations on the publication, Jose! I just ordered a copy and sent you a $5 coupon. :)

    With the rudeness issue, I used to have private heart-to-hearts with the offender and confess that I didn’t want to get into a power struggle because it would result in a loss of face for both of us. 98% of the time, that conversation eliminated the problem. But be ready to drop the kid into the principal’s office if he/she goes off on you. You’re in charge, and the system will back you. Just know your options. (If the principal is, on the other hand, a wimp, you do have a problema!)

  6. Shelly

    Firstly, BIG congrats on being published!! SO exciting. You inspire me no end… Love the way you write, you truly have a gift for words and expression. I’m feeling your sentiment on this one regarding the “problem”/rude students. I can only imagine the challenges this presents. Keep your head up, you’re doing a great job :-)

    Great pic on this post, Jose, where did you find?

  7. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Hugh, that’s exactly what I do. I’m trying to be as creative as possible with everything that’s going on in my classroom. Some of the problems stem much deeper than we can understand on a superficial level. It’ll be alright.

    Shelly, thanks, for the love. And I found it on the Internet after I typed in “raining” on Google Images. I just didn’t want to steal the person’s bandwidth, so I’m hosting it here.

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