Monthly Archives: March 2008

6 – Stuff Inner-City Students Like (Visiting the “Weed” Man with Mama)

not crack

Today, my students were given the assignment of collaborative essay writing.  Somewhere in between brainstorming and outlining, two students who were sitting the closest to me began to discuss the ills of living with mothers who are always saying that there is no money.

G1: “Oh, girl, yeah I know…my mama is always talkin’ bout she ain’t got no money, but why she be turnin’ the corner to the weed man house when she sayin’ it?”

G2:“-And goin’ right to the do…”

G1:“Umm Hmm” 

 Oh the irony; Mama had enough money to buy “weed!”

 Apparently, Inner-City students like to visit the weed man with Mama…


Posted by on March 31, 2008 in Uncategorized


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5- Stuff Inner-City Students Like (Trash Cans)

Apparently, Inner-City students like multi-purpose items…especially trash cans that double as toilet bowls!

mr hanky

Nonplussed (a permanent state of being for me while I am employed at this “school”)…why would a student defecate in the trash can? The computer lab trash can, at that…? I still have not found a venial answer. Especially when the boys/girls bathrooms are located directly across the hall from the computer lab!


Ms. Friendly’s take on it: Inner-City students REALLY like trash cans! happy bunny


Posted by on March 31, 2008 in Work


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4-Stuff Inner-City Students Like (Weave)

It’s un-be-WEAVE-ABLE!!!! It’s a veritable cornucopia of colors…it’s 31 Flavors…NO! It’s a HAIR style?!


Yes, I discovered that hair weave seems to be the ONLY arena in which my students have first-hand knowledge of diversity. Inner-City students seem to like “integrate” weave! No discrimination there!


It’s like Crayola…but different because it’s for the hair and not the coloring book!


Posted by on March 31, 2008 in Work


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3- My Fearless Leader – Leader of the Drones!


This inner-city world is strange to me; VERY strange! In fact, I believe Jim Morrison of The Doors speaks best for me when he states “People are strange, when you’re a stranger/ Faces look ugly when you’re alone.” I am alone. I am strange. I have encountered MANY uneven streets (metaphorically speaking) since working at this school than I have in any other and I am no novice teacher. I am beginning to think I work in a circus “Fun” House…distorted mirror images included!

I am incredulous in regards to the things that are ALLOWED to continue at this “school.” The students are not expected to adhere to ANY types of rules or standards because those rules/standards are NEVER enforced! I have never worked anywhere like this (mind you this is my FOURTH high school of employment and my 7th year of teaching)…I am no novice. The students regard our fearless leader as the biggest joke since “W” (sorry Republicans) and I agree! Oh sure…he enforces rules and asserts his authori-TAH, but only when it’s safe for him…only when it’s a teacher. And when he does that, it’s passive-aggressive, yellow-bellied, and underhanded.

My fearless leader’s main concerns are as follows (and not in any particular order):

  • Did you close your classroom window?
  • Did you make it to work by EXACTLY 8AM?
  • Are you attending your one-hour-and-fifteen-minute-long common planning meetings twice a month? (He never reads the minutes, addresses our concerns from those meetings, or attempts to resolve administrative issues)
  • Are you showing ANYTHING that closely resembles a video on a FRIDAY? (even if it’s educational…and our classes meet every OTHER day, so students are ALWAYS confused. If you are teaching Romeo and Juliet…students may ONLY watch on a Mon. or Wed. because showing it on FRIDAY is a sacrilege)
  • Are you physically PRESENT? (EVERYONE should come to work and REMAIN at work even if you are throwing up all over yourself, have a migraine, or can not breathe due to Asthma)
  • What ever it is that you are doing…does it LOOK good? (who cares what’s ACTUALLY going on)

My fearless leader is NOT concerned with the following (and not in any particular order):

  • Fights in the hallway ( he walks past those). In fact, a student once said to me, “Hey, you know how Mr.*** is always wearin’ them sneakers? It makes you think he going to be the FIRST one on the scene of a fight…sprintin’ right, but that n***a is the LAST one there!”
  • Discipline issues in the classroom – I have watched him shut the door on other teachers who have brought the student to his door! He says that he is on lunch…or too busy.
  • Standing in the hallway during class changes to monitor student behavior and (more importantly) to foster a relationship with students aside from that of a “disciplinarian.”
  • The fact that I share ONE set of twenty books with two other teachers who teach the same subject (and NO…we are not sharing a classroom, too)!
  • Students who are congregated in the hallways past the ringing of the bell – he walks past that without a word (I have personally witnessed that).
  • Enforcing the very rules he has so vehemently put into place! Guess what…you named it! He walks past those juvenile wrong doers without so much as a word!

I think it is obvious that I will NOT be returning to that school next year…in fact, the experience, as a whole, has caused me to truly question the institution and concept of public school “education.” I am conflicted. I mean…what am I REALLY doing? I don’t want to deal with anymore obnoxious discipline issues all by myself, poor administration, inadequate resources, ungrateful students, or shitty NCLB…really it’s No Teacher Left Behind (but that’s another blog).

I would like to think that the goal of education is to create free-thinkers (not to micro-manage), however the longer I remain in the profession, I notice the opposite happening. I see the creation of a corporation of drones. I see Stepford Wives. I see students attacking other students for being “different,” while I experience the school administration begin to view me as a plague because I will not wholeheartedly buy into the latest trend of educational bullshit drone-dom they are force feeding down the throats of the faculty. I feel like a leper because all I want to do is to teach kids HOW to think!


Posted by on March 29, 2008 in Work


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2-Zombies Phone Home


I can’t believe this! This week is starting to turn into a rendition of Shaun of the Dead (sans the humor)…students who were kicked out, arrested, or suggested to withdraw are now returning. WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! If I disconnect the head from the body do you think it will hold the “zombies” back?

Student #1…let’s call him…”Blow em up!” At the beginning of the semester last year, he threatened to blow the school up, had marijuana in his locker (yes, an entrepreneur in our midst!), AND was hauled off of school property wearing designer handcuffs 😮 “Blow em up!” is back now and I’m wondering how his presence will affect the disorder of my classroom.

Student #2…let’s call him…”Nightmare.” He began the school year by sexually harassing me and another teacher. Some of “Nightmare’s” most memorable quotes during his tenure at It’s the Students’ World High School are as follows:

1) “Ms. ***, why you ain’t answer the phone when I called you this morning?” This question was shouted loudly in the hallway during class change. Several students looked at him and at me as if to ask…He has your phone number? Embarrassing!
2) “I’m going to come over to your house later tonight and knock that out.”
3) “You miss me last night?”
4) “Yes, Baby.” As a response whenever I asked him to STOP walking around the room while I was teaching, to STOP talking to other students while I was teaching, to STOP harassing other students with put-downs while I was teaching, OR to actually DO his work, WAKE UP, etc.!
5) During one class period (not his), he stormed into my classroom while I was teaching. I was sitting on the top of a desk with my back slightly turned to the door. Our principal did not understand the importance of enabling teachers to lock their own classrooms, so I did not have a key…my room was Grand Central Station…anyone could walk in at will and THEY DID! On this particular day, “Nightmare” walked in and placed his hands on my shoulders and proceeded to massage my shoulders. I jumped and turned quickly. I ordered him out immediately, but I felt VIOLATED because he said “What? It’s me, Baby!”
6) Oh…and don’t forget about the pelvic gyrations, directed at me, while he was standing in the doorway of my classroom. Atrocious!

The BEST part is once all of this inappropriate behavior was called to the attention of my fearless leader, the other teacher and I were instructed to “Call home.” Call home? Call home? Are you serious?!!!! I tell you that a STUDENT has been sexually harassing me and all you can up with is “call home?” I was under the impression that ANY form of sexual harassment was REQUIRED to be reported. It WAS NOT reported. My fearless leader was not the least bit interested in the situation. The other teacher and I called “Nightmare’s” mother and the behavior stopped for a while, and then returned in small spurts before he completely withdrew from the school. However, my fearless leader (let me repeat) did not follow up with the event, did not speak to “Nightmare” about the importance of respecting teachers, did not bother to DO anything other than say “Call home.”

I am hoping that there will be no more resurrection of zombies…I don’t know how much more of this I can take.


Posted by on March 28, 2008 in Work


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Today we took ALL the 10th Graders into the cafeteria to prepare them for the state writing test. HA!

Today was the clusterfuck of ALL clusterfucks! HA!

Cluster Fuck

1) I have a student who INSISTS on referring to me as “Baby Girl.” Albeit, he views it as a term of endearment in his community/neighborhood, I have MANY issues with this. I am his teacher, not his peer/girlfriend/”bust it” baby/baby mama or whom ever he has mistaken me for AND…I am FIFTEEN years his SENIOR!!!!!!! HA!

2) A student who was removed from the school after threatening to “blow the school up” (in handcuffs no less), joined us in the cafeteria for writing test prep. HA!

3) The woman who was sent from the county to administer the test prep “session,” told my 10th Graders that an anecdote is a short story you tell the listener/reader to introduce your topic. That part was GREAT!!!! The enunciation….OMG….an entirely different story…..her version of anecdote sounded like so …”anedote“….which REALLY sounded like “antidote”….WHEW!

Okay…I’m still on #3 folks, but I need a new paragraph. So, this lady….the Antidote Lady….is a relic of the education system. She believes in the “L” word…LECTURING! My students were bored, bored, bored…like practically DROOLING bored…and suddenly I found myself within the scene of Ferris Buellar’s Day Off…”Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?” HA!

4) Diversity…oh boy…People, “we” are in need of a wake-up call! The fiasco I have been dealing with in trying to prepare students for the state writing test has depressed me. It all started with the practice writing prompt…

The writing prompts we have been using are “retired” state writing test prompts…I chose the following to use over our past two-day crash collision course.

Writing Prompt in a Nutshell: Write a plan to read to your peers about ways to understand and appreciate diversity among American people.

…So I was thinking…this should be a FUN topic…INTERESTING even! Not a pork belly of a chance! I was nonplussed! The demographic of my students (the ENTIRE school) is 99% African-American…the faculty as well. However, I may as well have been asking my students to write an essay on Biochemical Warfare, Stalin, Open-Heart Surgery, or Aerodynamic Engineering! They couldn’t think of anything. They hemmed. They hawed. They made me want to commit MANY of the “-cides” (homo-, sui-, and geno-)…OMG! How does a minority not know about DIVERSITY? Are you kidding me?

And that’s when it hit me! These kids don’t get “out” much. They don’t appreciate diversity because they are NOT diverse. In their world (and they don’t leave that world), they are not the minority…they are the majority, and anything that is different must die. Oh, I know you’re thinking that I am exaggerating…I wish I were! During the first week of school, my students promptly dug deeply into the roots of my cultural heritage. They wanted to know why I LOOK black, but SOUND white (whatever THAT means)…?

The fact that I SOUND white perturbed them to no end…I once had a student ask, “Are you going to talk like that for the rest of the year?” “Like what?” “Like a white woman,” she responded. The class fell apart at the seams from the waves of laughter that erupted throughout the room. She…THEY…thought that was funny. I felt sorry for them all because they could not recognize that I was speaking the type of English that the rest of the world speaks…the “REAL” world…the working, professional world! Also, I did not look black enough. My hair texture was of major concern to them, and once my West Indian heritage was brought forth, I received accusatory claims of “No wonder!”…I suppose to explain away my “lack” of blackness.

I guess I should not have selected that prompt for my students!

When I look at my students, I value my upbringing all the more. I lived in a DIVERSE city and had access to friends of various races, cultures, genders, and religious affiliations. I revel in the fact that I have never pigeon-holed myself to the types of music I listen to, movies I watch, clothes I wear, and company I keep. If I received that prompt when I was in high school, I know that I would have aced it! HA!


Posted by on March 27, 2008 in Work


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