Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Oh, the drama.
Remember that post when I was all proud of myself because I decided to keep all of my students in the face of having the option to send them off to alternative school?
Today I found myself in the principal's office begging her to send a couple away. This came after an entire class revolted against me, led by one of my precious and anger-inclined repeaters. I'll spare the details...just picture literature books flying through the air, threats of being sued, and one very mad 14-year-old screaming "I hate you white bitches always trying to control me!" All because I don't let them go to the bathroom whenever they please.
I still feel bad about the prospect of any of my students going away to alternative school. I feel like it is a giving up on them of sorts. Teach for America teaches us not to do that. I know that going away isn't going to be good for this student, who is bright and full of...um...life and ideas, but I am at the end of my little rope. I am coming to the thought that it isn't fair for the other students in my classes to let a few completely bring learning to a halt with their behavior. Other students who actually care about their education and are trying to improve themselves.
The "good" students just don't quite make as sexy of a story, in the end. It makes people shudder to hear the story of the near convict who gains a love of literature and life, all because of your wisdom and dedication. We are all left breathless from the tales of that one ragged and unkept teen whose wild and seemingly violent tendancies simply hide the genius that is trapped beneath his poverty. We want to be the teacher who attends the award ceremony when he gets a scholarship to a community college and says, "You were the only one who believed in me..." with a tear in his eye. It is all very "Stand and Deliver".
But what about the kid who has been trying really hard all year? The one who sighs heavily when the books start to fly in her classroom because she knows this is going to be yet another hour where, instead of learning grammar, she knows she is going to be watching an episode of Jerry Springer?
I'm tired of catering to the kids who don't care. I don't think it is fair to the other kids. So I think I am going to get the kids who are causing the most trouble out. And the principal is supportive of it. It is hard to be in Teach for America, sometimes. We get a lot of messages that tell us that we are a revolution and that the old ways have to go. That we need to fight for the kids that seem hopeless. But then there are people, like my principal, who have decades of experience and I have to wonder, don't they know more than me about this? Shouldn't I trust her instincts?
It is all very confusing. But in the end, I am simply tired of having things thrown at me and being called a bitch. I need some peace. But maybe teaching isn't where peace is gotten. ¶ 3:28 PM