To life!

Posts Tagged ‘schools

As a teacher, you look forward to that last class of the day. After it ends, you’ll slide into your car, put on the shades, turn on the music, and roar down the highway to the tennis court. But first, you’ve got to handle a class of loud, middle-schoolers.

Unlike first or second period students who come in cold and half asleep, six-perioders are very much awake. They’ve had lunch and gobbles of candy. They’ve frustrated a few teachers. This is their last class. Deliverance is at hand. After class, it’s the bus, and then home to watch tv or hang out with friends and pretend to do homework.

The precious two or three studious ones enter quietly and early. They don’t need to run because they didn’t stop in the hallway to giggle with friends or spend minutes in the bathroom primping themselves.

The rest burst into the classroom laughing. Shouting. There’s the last lollipop someone is trying to suck on. Some boy is carrying a girl’s books. Some chasing others or getting chased. Three, sometimes, four musketeers clatter in, shouting in Spanish. They throw open the door and fall into their chairs. Then begins the plot to take you off track.

Ms. Adjapon, can we sing Papa Pinguoin?

No, I like the other one, Bisous Eskimos!

Ms. Adjapon, it’s hot in here!

Is the air on?

Can we go outside?

Sit down and do your warm-up, I say.

Aww, Ms. Adjapon! Can we go outside?

They bang books. They mutter. Someone asks, Did you bring bread? I’m a fool for kids, always bringing them bread and cookies. But once they settle down, no class is more lively, ready to speak, write, sing and dance.

So, you’ve all finished your work?

Love you guys!


Yes, most instructional assistants (IAs) are jewels; you can’t do without them. But I have a beef with some.

To IAs, classroom decoration is of primordial importance. They interrupt your precious circle time, pulling out kids to hang up some weird objects they have made, whereupon the rest of the class turns to watch and ignore your Oscar-caliber rendition of The Little Pokey Puppy. But the IA who nearly made me lose it, is the one who told me immediately upon the children’s arrival that Joanna was a disobedient child in front of Joanna who glared at me with defiance. I ignored the IA and gave Joanna my attention, but the IA wanted to vent. She followed me to Joanna’s desk, telling me that most of the kids in the school were poor and didn’t have fathers while I fought the urge to grab her throat. At snack time, she said of one kid, “this child never brings snacks,” within earshot of the child, and told me how she had to use her own money to buy snacks. Once again, I wanted to reach for her throat.

What I learned is that schoolchildren in richer neighborhoods are treated better than those in poorer neighborhoods. And the same goes for the curriculum; the better the neighborhood, the more challenging the curriculum.