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Tag Archives: satire

12 – Ms. Friendly, What Grade Do You Think I Deserve?

My classroom this morning…

The sound of cell phones vibrating against desk, students yelling the lyrics of their favorite “songs,” while lacing in a few of their favorite vocabulary words …

Let me see ya make ya bootie talk

…Use ya bootie muscles…

…Shit…Fuck… (they get to curse with impunity, but I don’t)

My students are discussing the latest celebrity gossip while passing around centerfolds from their Vibe Crush magazines…they’re not doing the assigned work, which makes the preceding comments from my students all the more comical!

I was accosted with the following question, “Ms. Friendly, what grade do you think I deserve?”

I responded with, “You deserve the grade you make.”

So she reared her full weight back on to her hips…I guess I didn’t answer the question the way she wanted me to. I must admit, it was kind of difficult to take her seriously while her hairstyle resembled that of a Bird of Paradise…first micro braided, and then twisted into four corn rowed sections on the top of her head…with a smattering of blond and black chunks of highlights.

Once again she asked me, “Ms. Friendly, what grade do you think I deserve?” The emphasis was different this time.

I remained calm. First period…8:30AM…It was too early for this shit.

I responded with, “You deserve the grade you make.” …again…(I know I already said that before)

“No, but what do you think I deserve? ME?”

I sighed. Did she not get that grades are not a personal issue or a popularity game? Bird of Ghetto Paradise started a domino effect. All of the other birds in the jungle began to chatter.

I heard choruses of: “Yeah, because YOU GAVE me a 20.” “I don’t think I deserved a 78.” “She GAVE me a 54.”

I interjected, “I don’t GIVE grades! You EARN them!”

And they didn’t get it! …I have never seen a group of students who held a sense of entitlement when they have done absolutely NOTHING! The politics of inner-city “learning” is complicated because from the outside, it seems as though the kids are being educated…but if you take a magnifying glass and scrutinize the situation, you realize that those kids are just being passed along. I actually had a colleague, who has worked many years for this school system, tell me that he believes in just passing the kids along because he doesn’t want to be bothered with the obnoxious reactions of the parents. I was nonplussed. How could he confide in me such a detestable philosophy? “Teachers” like him are what makes my expectations seem so unrealistic to students.

And then there’s the administration…(you know I have to talk about them)…In this school system, a student cannot fail a class if he has not signed a notice form. When that policy was made aware to me, I thought it was a joke…or at least a soft threat with a loop hole in favor of the integrity of honest grades and real education. I had never worked anywhere that enforced such a policy as LAW, and I had worked in three other school systems before coming to this one. So when Judgment Day approached, I was ready to place all the 18, 13, 51, 32, and 6s that my students EARNED! They NEVER did any work! I emailed my fearless leader and asked, “If I have students who did not sign failure notice forms, am I still obligated to give them a 70?” He wanted to know why those students never signed the forms. I explained to him that none of the printers or copiers at the school worked…he said that that was no excuse…WTF? Hmph…my days of out-of-pocket expense for work were OVER!!!!! I explained to him that the students were SHOWN their grades, but did not have anything to sign. He told me that I had to pass them.

I then had students who had the nerve to challenge WHY they received a 70, once we all returned to school after Winter Break. I thought it was comical. The sense of entitlement was astronomical! They were under the impression that showing up to class and having a pulse would guarantee an automatic “good” grade. HA! I was more than happy to burst their bubbles and show them what they REALLY made…and WHY! Most of them were silenced into a state of embarrassment (that only lasted like five seconds)…but at least they saw what they EARNED.

But didn’t that just further feed their obnoxious sense of entitlement? Now, will they just think that some stroke of luck will always kick and save them? In my world, the grade you get is the grade you earn.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2008 in Work

 

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11 – Disturbing Observations of Student Culture

Last weekend, I was invited to the housewarming of my friend’s brother. I had not seen this particular friend in five years, and I did not know his brother…but I was still excited about the invite.

The day before the housewarming, I received directions from my friend’s cousin, and my heart almost plummeted one thousand feet into the earth…I had to take the same exit as my work exit! At that point, I was not entirely sure if the complex was located five minutes from the school…or fifteen minutes from the school…I did not want to panic prematurely, however, a bad taste was beginning to form in my mouth. I wanted to see my friend, so I had resigned myself to go.

I followed the directions, hoping that the complex would be farther off the exit than I was anticipating (I don’t know that area very well)…but I would not be that fortunate…the complex was a mere five minutes away from the school. When I turned into the complex, I saw students…I did not like that. Normally, I believe it is in best practices to socialize FAR AWAY from where students may be. When I found the building number, I noticed that everyone was sitting outside; that was strike two for me…I did not want to expose myself, like a sitting duck, to my students.

So, I attempted to try to settle into the afternoon. It was around five p.m., and people within the neighborhood where going about their business…

Disturbing Observation #1: A cute little girl, around the age of four, was running through the neighborhood unattended. “Where’s her mother?” I asked. Everyone there chuckled and replied, “At least she has shoes on today!” I was incredulous. She was running up and down the complex street, going in and out of different houses…and no one was supervising her. “That’s how little girls get raped,” I stated. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.

Disturbing Observation #2: The little girl’s mother FINALLY makes it outside. She is “looking” for her daughter, but without any true effort. The mother is not calling her name. The mother is only walking, stumbling, along…she looked to be about seven months pregnant, MAYBE twenty-one (ish)…The mother really does not seem concerned, and I only assumed that she was looking for her daughter because I know that if it were my daughter…I would have been looking for her (for REAL looking). So, eventually, the little girl comes running out of some random apartment and into the street. The girl runs to her mother, and the mother says nothing…she does not scold or chastise her daughter for running in and out of “strange” homes, nor does she lecture her daughter about the importance of remaining in her sight at all times.

Disturbing Observation #3: There’s a teen-aged boy to the left of the town home who periodically would sit outside, look around, and then go back into his house. He had a chair set up in a nice space under a tree. In fact, his house was one of the houses that the little girl ran into. I was curious about the boy, but savvy enough to know better than to stare openly. The boy watched nothing, and yet was omniscient, simultaneously. As the afternoon wore on, the boy began to receive visitors…a motley bunch of guys who seemed to be around his age. The boys were young, some wore their hair in long spindly dreadlocks, others had their hair close shaven…they all wore extremely oversized T-shirts and jeans…one boy had on a white shirt that was so dirty that it held an orange hue…another boy wore a black shirt that had an ashen grey-like tinge…they all looked like people I would not want in my classroom…sneaking, skulking, menacing, posturing…they were up to no good!

Random people were visiting them, “dapping” them up (fist pounds), and then exiting as soon as they entered…this happened for an hour…and then the little girl…AGAIN! She zoomed in and out of houses, up and down the street of the complex, and always found her way into this busy boy-man’s house. “Is he selling drugs over there?” I asked. “They call him White Boy,” my friend replied. “White Boy? But he’s not White…he’s like mixed-race or something,” I respond. My friend laughed and shook his head. “WHITE boy…cuz he got that White.” “Ohhhhhhh!” I got it! He sold Cocaine.

Disturbing Observation #4: Around the time of my epiphany concerning White Boy’s occupational status, I notice someone in a car, who looks like one of my students. “Oh no!” I hid behind my friend, hoping my student did not see me. She lives on the other side of White Boy…opposite of where the house warming group was congregated.

Disturbing Observation #5: White Boy and his friends began to smoke weed on the front stoop of his house. “Can they do that?” I asked. My voice was full of incredulity. “Sure,” my friend responded, “Who’s going to stop them? This is a laid back living community.” …um…okay…? I immediately began to picture a police sting operation were I would be arrested upon association…Okay, NOTE: I realize that I have an over-active imagination! LOL! But I was picturing the fact that I could loose my teaching certificate by being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Disturbing Observation #6: More people are randomly coming up to White Boy. The traffic in and out of his vicinity was higher than that of an airport’s…and the little girl continued to make sporadic visits in and out of White Boy’s place. I thought it was all so very strange. It made me so uncomfortable…Something about that little girl just running around unattended, in and out of other people’s houses, truly unnerved me. Then…to add more uncomfortabilty (not a “real” word I know) to an already uncomfortable situation, I saw ANOTHER student! Okay…time to go!

…I left soon thereafter…all of that was way too much for me. Gaining that bird’s eye glimpse into what some of my students’ lives must be like…painful…because I knew that that place was not the worst place. That place was not a housing project, but it had elements and people that I never had to deal with as I was growing up…those boy-men I saw congregated around White Boy…they were headed for a life of nothingness. They all looked so angry and defeated. What they were doing was “it” for them…the height of their achievements in life…being a dope boy. They will probably go to jail, have a few children, maybe get shot, and/or shoot someone all by the age of twenty!

The little girl…will probably get raped or molested by the time she is nine…maybe have a baby by the time she is fifteen…WHY? Because no one is watching the little ones out there!…And WHY was she running from house to house? My personal theory is that she was running drugs for White Boy.

I had seen enough.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2008 in Uncategorized, Work

 

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