Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Good Use of Class Time

In my class yesterday, I taught a lesson reviewing nouns, adjectives, and verbs before we start adverbs later this week. My students are slowly starting to understand it because we’ve been reviewing the differences for about three weeks now. I figure that in order to get any of the new vocabulary to stick in their heads, they have to know how to use the words. Most of these 14-16 year olds had it all mixed up a few weeks ago.

So I start by asking the class to think of any noun to use for the example and one of them yells out “Chuck E. Cheese!”. Great – I’m thinking that brainstorming a list of adjectives to describe him will be easy.

I write “CHUCKY CHEESE” on the board and ask them to think of words they can use to describe the creepy mouse. Most classes would have just said, “smiley! black and white!, or fun!”. But that would have been way too simple.

No joke, four of the students in the class start having a heated debate about the proper spelling of Chuck E. Cheese. The most unstable of the bunch is out of her seat, flailing her arms, screaming at the others, and swearing to god that the correct spelling is “CHUCK E. CHEESE”.

One thing that I have learned in these situations has been some major patience. If I had to choose one thing that I’ve learned so far teaching, it’s got to be patience. Yelling back at them and getting mad rarely works (and just gives me a bigger headache). Also, this had to have been one of the dumbest arguments in the history of the world. I put my hands in the air, erased the CHUCKY CHEESE I had written and just wrote Mickey Mouse. They all got back on track and we correctly added some adjectives. For the record, the most animated student was right, the correct spelling is Chuck E. Cheese. When I told her later that day she said, “You know damn right Mr. K, don’t front like I’m not right about Chuck E.”

The worst/funniest part is that a very similar argument ensued on the very next example. I wrote a sentence using another student-suggested noun: Nicki Minaj. The crazy one was so positive that it was spelled “Nicki Manaj”, but for that one, I had to shut her down. She’s on my iPod and I was pretty confident on my spelling.

There are like a hundred random, crazy things that happen daily. This one was just on my mind. The other ridiculous thing that occurred yesterday was a recurring ‘incident’ that also happened a few times last year. It definitely deserves its own post and once again, it’s about me getting harassed by 9th graders. Post to come later in the week.

That’s it for now –  I really should be planning lessons or getting some late grad school assignments finished. Instead I’m here typing this and watching the Lakers – Rockets game which I have no interest in.


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Long overdue recap

Two weeks have gone by since the last post. We had Columbus Day off last Monday and I wrote most of this back then. I’ve been pretty wiped throughout the weeks so I’ve held off posting until now. Maybe Thursday nights will be my go-to night for the blogfest…if I can get my act together. As for this post, I’m just going to try to recall some of the little things that have happened/been on my mind in the last few weeks.

Last week a girl asked me “Why did you cut your hair Mr. K?” I told her that it was too long and it seemed like it was the right time to cut it. This ninth grader just looks at me and very bluntly says, “But it was so beautiful when it was long”.

I just paused, rubbed my hair with my hand, and said , “Alright, take it easy”. I then sort of awkwardly walked away.

I don’t want anybody to get me wrong – I do think that the boyband attention IS really funny. But it has also gotten to the point where the weird and gross factor may be outweighing the comedy. Bottom line, these girls are far to old and mature to be hitting on me so casually and regularly. While last year seemed innocent, this year seems funky.

In other related and terrifying news, I just read in the NY Post (quality paper I know) that three teachers this year in the city have been canned because of scandalous activity with students on Facebook. I know I’ve got to be real careful these days and put my foot down when these girls are out of line. I’ve also ignored quite a few requests from creepin’ students over the past year.

Still – I haven’t quite figured out a way to prevent one of my lunatic students from making up fake girlfriends for me. She’s always screaming (in the middle of class) about how “Caroline” wants me to learn spanish or french or some other piece of insanity. I guess I’ll take the made up craziness over real admiration any day.

Last Thursday, I’m in the middle of calling on students to talk about an article we had just read together for my Current Events class. One ridiculous student sitting in the middle of the class suddenly pops opens open her purple umbrella. The best part is that the class doesn’t seem to distracted by it but I couldn’t continue talking. I told her to put it away and of course asked what planet she thought she was on where that action was okay for school.  She responds by telling me so innocently that her umbrella was broken and it could not be fixed. I walked over, closed the umbrella, and placed it on the ground next to her. I guess some of the seventh graders can get away with that.

One of my other students never shows up to school. She’s a older ninth grader and new to our school. I recently found out that some of her behavioral goals this year are to show up to school 5 out of 5 days sober. I’m not sure what kind of substances this girl may be abusing but it’s a really sad situation. When she does show up, she shows sparks of initiative and kindness, and many teachers have taken a liking to her. She has an unusually endearing quality about her that makes you want to help her out really badly. All I know is that I don’t think she’s coming close to reaching her sober goal because when I see her she looks a mess . She’s missed about 70 percent of school days so far this year and we barely see her. It goes to show you that the things some of these kids go through on a daily basis is very heavy.

Another student, who I tutor two times a week, has had some really eye-opening conversations with me recently. I’ve always understood that some of our students travel really far to attend our school. Only after speaking with her two times a week have I been more cognizant of the fact that so many of our students’ commutes are such a hassle. She drops off her little sister at day care and then take up to 4 trains to get to school in the morning. She’s regularly late to first period and I had a hard time telling her to get to school earlier. I would say that a fair amount of students at school have similar commutes while many of them are not allowed to take the certain trains or buses and have up to hour and a half rides daily. Once again, students on the grind.

Lastly, I understand that I’ve been getting more serious with some of these posts. Don’t worry – I still haven’t forgotten my roots.

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Monday doesn’t care if your’e tired

I just got back from an incredible, yet very tiring adventure to Bowdoin for Homecoming. I didn’t even plan on going but let’s just say it was a great time. My friend, who I will refer to as J $, drove myself and two other amigos down from Maine fueled only by four or five blue Monster Energy Drinks on Sunday. After sitting through traffic in Manhattan, I finally arrived back home in Brooklyn to graduate school homework and lesson plans for Monday. I’ve never slept more soundly in my life. It was a miracle I got out of bed the morning after when the clock struck 6:45 AM.

That all being said, some of my Monday classes were immediately worth writing about.

My second ‘Literary Seminar’ class has 9 students in it. Usually one or two are absent, but when all of them have been there, it has been an interesting time. This class is a mix of 8th and 9th graders that receive additional support in school. Some are so sweet, shy, and do all the work, while others are the exact opposite. Keep in mind these are 14-16 year old girls, many of whom have struggled with school, teachers, and learning their entire lives.

My lesson was about adjectives and verbs, and I was quickly interrupted by two of my biggest behavioral problem students (who I put at opposite ends of the room) yelling loudly across the room about the topic of  ‘teabagging’. I think that only one of the two knew what she was pervertedly  being obnoxious about, but either way it was a distraction. It’s safe to say that the entire class loves when one of them just starts going off about a random, absurd topic that has nothing to do with what we are going over. They try to get me to laugh and sometimes I can’t stop myself. This day, I stopped them from furthering their inappropriate and rude talk and finally got to reviewing the vocab for the week.

I’ve been doing vocabulary with the class (5 words per week), and one of the words this week is the adjective malicious.

“Student S, can you give us a sentence using the word malicious?”

“Hells yea. I’m malicious!”

“Alrighttt, well give us some context so we know what the word means. Why are you describing yourself as malicious? And also…you don’t have to say ‘hells yea’ just the sentence please.”

“Last year, a teacher tried to take my phone, and I threw a chair at him! Try to come at me and touch my stuff…”

The entire class is back to laughing uncontrollably. I’m standing there, thinking that this doesn’t seem too surprising to me. I’m actually more satisfied that she knows the meaning of the word. Plus, I know that I could probably dodge a chair better than her last teacher.

“Well, you used the word correctly Student S, can you say it together in one sentence please. The people in the back want to hear.”

“I JUST said it! You say it!”

“Alrighttt take it easy. Listen up! Student S’ sentence was that she is malicious because she threw a chair at her teacher for attempting to take her phone. Nice use of the word. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again here.”

Let’s chalk this one up as a success.

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