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.