Day 16 (Monday)

the bad

I know we teachers are supposed to be dancing on graves, just thrilled to death whenever our "bad" students don't show up. But Duane still isn't back yet (Mom needs to call and set up a meeting with the principal before this can happen), and my number two "problem kid" (who is actually far less violent but perhaps even more spacey) wasn't here yesterday either. So things were relatively smooth in my classroom, and that's in some respects too bad. Because they have much to gain from showing up.

By the way, when I make references to "bad" kids or "problem" kids, let me be clear: I am only referring to them as such because this is how they are relative to the system that is supposed to educate them. I happen to believe that the system leaves many of these children behind; that the onus is on me as a public educator to find a way to get through, not on them to take it or leave it. Yet, the line must be drawn somewhere--and so, sometimes we can't afford to provide the necessary resources to help all of our kids (one-on-one assistants? How about simply in-classroom assistants, which we special ed teachers are supposedly entitled to, much less medical services for those who need it); at any rate, with a broken infrastructure at best, I'm not sure we're enabling all of our kids to succeed in life regardless of where they happen to be born or how much they have. So the "bad" kids are the difficult ones on my end, to be sure, but it's certainly not their problem, to a large extent. It's mine, because my job is to figure out how to educate them, in spite of everything, without making excuses.

the ugly

Every morning, I'm greeted in my living room with the sweet stench of cigarette smoke, compliments of my downstairs neighbor who smokes like a chimney (the stack of which evidently empties in my apartment). Every morning, it's pretty much the same routine: wake up, hit snooze alarm five times, crawl out of bed, stumble into the living room, curse George, shut the windows. The man's an early riser.

(Note: George is perfectly nice, and he knows a lot about the ins and outs of Las Vegas driving. This is no personality conflict, just a conflict of having to share the same polluted space in the morning.)

the good

I continue to find that the better prepared I am to give a lesson, the better I end up teaching it. Shocking correlation I know, but it appears to be true. Today, I gave a lesson on "a_e" ("a blank e," pronounced as in "gave" or "made"). The kids in attendence actually seemed to have made the transition from not knowing it before the lesson, then getting it afterwards! They could all make "a_e" words on their own and pronounce them at the end of the lesson. Here's the thing: very often, kids with special needs exhibit some form of short-term memory loss. So today, we'll see what sticks. (We'll also get started with "i_e" as in "hive.")

Watching kids learn is a huge part of why this job is worthwhile. It's when we take the responsibility of getting them to acheive and then they don't that teachers get depressed. Or should.

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