Friday, August 29, 2008

Not feeling the love

We've finished three weeks of school.

We've taken our first unit tests. (Horrid)

We've sent out our first progress reports. (Pathetic)

And as Mrs. Bunny commented to me the other day, "I'm not feeling the love with this group." Mrs. Eagle and I both nodded our heads in agreement.

This group of seventh graders is a tough bunch. And that's being nice.

We kind of had a feeling that this wasn't going to be an easy year. After all, the sixth grade teachers last year spent most of their time looking frazzled and stressed and were eagerly planning their summer breaks in October. We also spent a lot of time watching these kids in the hallway (their hallway behavior was atrocious) and we all prayed that they'd mature and grow up over the summer. The majority of our discipline referrals last year were from the sixth grade and the time I spent doing admin while my student teacher was around convinced me that this bunch had a real problem with self control.

And they haven't changed.

For the first year ever, the team had to implement a locker schedule because these kids can't manage to go to their lockers without messing around, hitting each other, smashing fingers in their lockers (assuming they get them opened) and generally fussing and fighting.

The first fight at lunch happened this week...during seventh grade lunch.

Most of us had to do seating charts for our lunch tables within the second day of school because these kids can't sit and behave during lunch. We had to implement lunch detention (bless Coach Math for volunteering to do this duty) for kids that can't behave at lunch and in the classroom. This is another first.

I have had to take each class out in the hall at least once (third period has done this three times) to teach them how to walk into a classroom, get quiet, sit down, and get their agendas opened, because they come into the classrooms screaming at the top of their lungs and don't stop even when the bell rings. I have never had to do this before.

In School Suspension, which hasn't been busy at all, has had a few customers and, you guessed it, the majority of them are seventh graders. This week three of them were from my team alone. And these weren't minor offenses like having a cell phone. They were for cursing at a cafeteria lady during breakfast...showing off naked pictures of a girl from Mrs. Eagle's team on a cell phone...slapping a kid in the back of the head at lunch, knocking over his milk, then kicking him while he was at his locker later that day.

I've spent time watching video of kids bullying each other...calling parents about kids getting caught during their test with a study guide out on their table....emailing the Enforcer about witnessing a kid slamming another kid upside the head and then having the bully look me square in the eye and sneer, "What are you going to do, call my mom again?"

My Fifth Period From the Very Depths of Hell Itself...can't stay in their seats, can't get quiet, refuses to turn in work, throws things, and generally manages to waste enough time every day that they basically end up losing about ten minutes a day of instruction. I feel awful for the kids in that class that actually care because they're being exposed to a bunch of malcontents who don't care...and when you call their parents you get comments like, "Well, I can't make him do anything at home so what the hell do you expect me to do?"

That's if you even get a parent on the line.

On the plus side - and that's because I have to find the silver lining somewhere - Pinball Boy is still doing great for me. I have a few kids asking for extra help to bring their grades up and we may come up with a homework clinic since tutoring was canceled this year due to budget cuts. Some of my parents are great about emailing me with questions, letting me know their kid is absent, wanting to volunteer. My squishy toys are very popular and the kids that use them are calming down somewhat.

But it's still going to be a hell of a year.

9 comments:

dkzody said...

Wow, welcome to the world I have lived in for the past 18 years, each year getting harder. This year has been better because I do not have to be the drill sargent with the kids I have, they know the rulses and what is expected. I wish you well with your troublesome group,

The Bus Driver said...

holy moly!!! i'm sorry you gotta deal with that bunch, but i bet its gonna make for some great blogging.

We've had our share over here of kids who wont listen, kids who refuse, kids who are pain in the butts etc. etc. etc.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I knows the feeling. Start making them stay after school and clean the gum off the bottom of the desks. While listening to show tunes of course...

EdWonk said...

And let's not forget that even when this bunch doesn't ATTEMPT to do their assigned work, the federally mandated NCLB Act holds classroom teachers and site administration responsible.

EHT said...

Been there...done that. I've had those years when the group as a whole is simply out of control. Early in the school year I have taken up precious time to practice procedures regarding how to enter class, etc. by having students do it over, and over, and over. However, students your age often simply refuse to practice procedures, so I don't have any sage words of wisdom. Hang in there and don't give up. Those kids do need you!

Gina said...

Yikes! Hearing that makes me glad I'm home with my boys instead of working. Good luck to you this year! And keep up the great work with pinball boy :)

Jasmin Loire said...

It is in situations such as these (albeit with a high school freshmen crowd) that I really enjoy the fact that I have a high, squeeky voice.

"Oh, noooooooooooooooooooooooo," I'll screech at them, "It is too early in the year for (( whatever it is that they are doing )). Please, can't it wait until later in the year?"

I suppose it is the maturity of the fact that they are in high school, but after the pained look from my soprano off-pitch "no" fades from their face, they do actually think about what I've just said and generally agree to wait on the behavior.

This buys me time at the beginning of the year to get them to buy in to the class.

And then later never comes.

PS: If they choose other wise, I go back to screeching and claim that they have slain me by having to make me the bad gal up front. Usually the screeching causes the rest of the class to apply peer pressure in the "behave" direction.

Hey, the lawyer said I cannot do like I do with my cats and spray them with water.

Liz Ditz said...

Non-school people (say, parents) just don't get the variability between cohorts of kids. This happens even in schools that select students (read: independent schools). The class of 200X at one of my daughter's schools was just poisonous, for some reason. EVERYONE breathed a sigh of relief when they graduated and moved on to be other people's problems.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

We're wondering what was in the water...we've been hearing about this particular class of kids ever since they were in elementary - and they come from three different feeder schools, but weirdly, all three had the same problem with this group. They are, as you said, poisonous.