Monthly Archives: May 2011

Mr. New Booty

Throwback Story – Mr. New Booty

This account takes place some time between March and May of 2010.

Walking toward to the teacher’s room, one of my wonderful co-teachers, Ms. H, asks if I can help her with her malfunctioning projector. She needs the projector to start her lesson and I go in to see what I can do (which obviously consists of just hitting it like a monkey a la Zoolander).

This class is a notorious one at the school, and one that I’m not too familiar with at all. It’s an 8th grade Latin seminar class consisting of a few too many students who think they run the school.

I stroll into the class and Ms. H is struggling with the power cord of the machine in the center of classroom. I don’t really know any of these students, and I squeeze through a few occupied desk-chairs to get to the projector.

A few girls instantly start giggling as I lift my leg to squeeze through one of the narrow rows. As I ask Ms. H when the machine last worked, I overhear a few of the girls blatantly say, through the chatter of a bored class, “Look at his a**!”, and “He’s got a big booty. Bah ha ha!”

At first, I ignored what I heard (as a teacher it’s always a tricky game determining which comments you should address, and which are better to let slide). I then tried to talk to Ms. H a few moments later, and I hear laughter behind me and two girls starting to sing, “Smack that! All on the floor, Smack that!  Give me some more. Smack that! ‘Til you get sore. Smack that.. Oh Oh Oooh”.

Yes, I know, the now classic Akon featuring Eminem song has been sung by many adolescents in the past few years. It’s catchy, and fun, and I’ve definitely sung it. It could have been a sheer coincidence that the song these girls started to sing happened to be  related to comments I’d heard about my rear end moments earlier. So I continued to pretend that this was the case. What else was there to do?

A few minutes later, the semi-quiet group of students began morphing into a more rowdy bunch of teens with nothing to do.

Through the waves of boisterous conversations, a more blatant song could be heard – this time, with more members of the chorus joining in. The lunchroom-esque decibel level gave way to a clear and crisp rendition of:

*Replace with Mr.

“Booty Booty Booty Booty, Rockin’ everywhere! Booty Booty Booty Booty, Rockin’ everywhere.Booty Booty Booty Booty, Rockin’ everywhere. Rockin; Everywhere, Rockin; Everywhere! I’m found you, Mr. New Booty!”…”

The Bubba Sparxx song, cleverly titled “Ms. New Booty”, which tells a wonderful tale of a man’s jubilation after finding the perfect bum he’d been pursuing, was being sung at me. It might surprise you, but this was actually a first in my life.

This song is another modern-day standard, but the teenage girls had changed the Ms. to Mr. and I was the only man in the room!

My first thought was that I’d never been more uncomfortable at school. I looked at Ms. H and wasn’t sure if she was hearing what I had. I really didn’t know how to react to this surprising and very funny act of harassment (either pronounced in the American or British accent).

The fact was that they were singing a song directed at my behind. I looked over at the group as they laughed and continued, but then I just pretended that I couldn’t hear. A few minutes later I just gave up on the projector and left the room not know what to do.

I proceeded to tell everyone I knew about the story, and how I awkward of a situation it was for me. I even think that it got around to the administration, and this event let people know to keep an eye out for this kind of behavior (imagine if these were dude-students talking about a female teacher).

It all ended peacefully, and this was by far the best harassment song-story I have in my arsenal. But then again, you never know what could happen tomorrow.


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Testing, Testing, 1,2…what comes after 2 again?

Great smelling things.

The last two weeks marked the highly (pick you adjective) awaited/ anticipated/ dreaded/ hated/ feared New York State Exams for English and Math. Our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders had two days of each week devoted to the newly revamped, more challenging, and similarly high-stakes state tests.

The ‘real’ most wonderful time of the year was back…and you can just imagine the scene: The smell of freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils wafting through the air. The excitement of opening up a neatly pressed zip-lock bag of beautiful scantron answer sheets. The joy and majesty of slowly handing test booklets out one-by-one to nervous children sitting in their chair-desks.

In a slightly vengeful and immature way, it’s a semi-refreshing feeling to see a few of your students, who never seem to show signs of anxiousness or fear, visibly worried for a test.

This test needs to chill out.

As an entire school, there seemed to be a wide range of student confidence heading into the exams. For the more confident students, its was another state test, but for more struggling learners (most of mine), its a truly frightening day. The tests, that all New York students in grades K-8 have to take, bear a good deal of weight for teachers and students alike.

If students fail, they may have to return for a lovely month of summer school. A couple of our students are already headed there because of their grades, but nevertheless, the thought of that brutal repercussion is enough to have students focused for at least a few days. Teachers are also somewhat assessed based on the students academic growth as seen through these (*sarcasm alert*) ‘completely fair and equal assessments of students knowledge and skills’.

Either way, the small group that I was proctoring seemed very determined and focused through the grueling testing process. I was proud of the effort.

Many students with learning disabilities receive extended time on tests, and schools are required to abide by the strict time limits and extensions for each student. The result of this can be excellent sometimes, but in most cases, this just means there will be a state-mandated, final half-hour of boredom. Everybody is required to sit in complete silence until the entire alloted time is up, although every body has finished their tests. You can imagine how difficult that can be for some of them.

I had a student pretend she was innocent of a crime every time I walked down her aisle, raising her hands and jokingly saying, “I didn’t do it I swear I’m innocent!”. Then she pretended to chop up crack rocks with her ID card and then snort them like cocaine (glad to know she’s confusing the drugs and has never actually done either). Finally, this wonderful student then blurted out to a silent classroom that she wasn’t crazy. Right…

Besides a handful of the consistently unstable student’s wacky comments, the testing weeks for middle school raised some conflicting feelings for me. As I proctored the exams I wanted my students to succeed. I day-dreamed about them all answering all the questions correctly as I stared into space while proctoring. It would be great for their confidence, and would also look good for my teacher report if my students could somehow passed an exam testing knowledge and skills on an 8th grade level (if I even get one – being a SPED teacher) .

The hardest part was then coming back to the real world and walking up and down the rows to see some outrageously incorrect responses to questions you have been preparing them for months.

Ballsy, or honest? Either way, this is reality for some.

I then thought to myself, so many of these students need summer school as much help as they can get. I didn’t know how hard I should be rooting for them when most of them are very clearly below grade level on reading, writing, and math.

In the end, I felt stuck between wanting them to ace the tests, and a reality that most of them would not. Part of me felt that, for the few of the students who had not been working as hard as they could, it would be better for them to fail. Maybe classes in July could show them that they need to work harder to catch up? I also think that many students need to see summer school as more of a necessity for them, rather than an evil thing. It’s a complicated issue when you want them so badly to succeed, while the tests often set them up for failure/ more feelings of inadequacy.

Summer school is exactly like this.

By Friday, we had completed out testing for the middle school and began a push for our 9th graders to prepared for their Regent’s Exams (end of the year state tests).

It will be interesting to see how relaxed and in ‘summer-mode’ the younger students become after high-stakes testing has finished (it’s always a battle).

Meanwhile, many of the 9th graders have snapped and there have been  a few crazy incidents that I’ll try to compile for my next post.

Until then, Godspeed, and enjoy MJ and ET’s friendship.Bonus: I taught an article on Aliens this week, and this picture needs to be shared.

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Lacking Guile and Smelling Gasoline

I knew that teaching middle school was a karmic event when I was first offered the job.

Back in the comfortable and funded Jersey suburban school I grew up in, my friends and I would torture our teachers (and especially the ones who had no idea what they were doing). We would lick our chops at any opportunity to get away with being overly sneaky, annoying, or goofy.

More specifically, in 7th grade, at least fifteen of the twenty-or-so students in one particular class teamed up to prank, harass, and exasperate our permanent substitute. We called her “Fish-Lips” for obvious reasons, and she was not prepared or trained to keep us in line.

We would pass notes secretively, organizing specific times on the second when everyone would fall out of their seat in unison. We would do the same with organized coughing or laughing fits. I remember writing with pens with that had an obnoxious amount of pen caps stacked on the end. We would take turns reading the history passages insanely slow or fast, or even using ridiculous accents to spice up the dull content. By the end of the year, the teacher had resorted to sending out the five or six well-behaved kids to learn in another classroom.

We were like a Jewish version of these guys.

I bring this up because for one, its proof that karma exists and I deserve any grief that comes my way. Secondly, it shows a clear difference between my schooling and what I have to police EVERYDAY with the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders at our school: the absolute lack of guile. However you want to refer to it – cunning, sneakiness, or being slick – the majority of these kids don’t have an ounce of it.

This is obvious

Whether it’s putting your bag on your desk with BOTH of your hands inside, thumbing away at a sidekick phone you’re “disguising”, passing a note IN FRONT of you body in the FRONT seat of class, or using a hood to cover up a set of blinding neon headphone buds in your ears – so many of the students’ attempts at not getting caught are just plain sad.

A few of them might actually think that just because they do something more slowly and quietly, that the teacher does not have the ability to see it. (I always think of the rainy scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex blows the hat off the guy’s head). Why are so many students so terrible at masking their mischief? Is it because I’m a younger teacher and have better eyesight than a dinosaur that I see these things? No. The most senile of all teachers would be alive enough to smell the poorly hidden Egg and Cheese sandwich being eaten in the second row of math class.

This past week, after returning from a wonderful and relaxing spring break, I turned my back for a moment to write a note for the class on the board for my 7th grade Current Events class. A girl whose seat had already been moved because she was being loud,  got up out of her front row seat, and motioned to poke my butt with her pencil.

The class laughs behind me, and I turn to find her crouching with a pencil in her hand and a look like a frozen gazelle in the headlights. I just tell her she has one more chance to get it together and, as you would expect, the next time I turn to write, she gets up and pretended to poke my butt again. I just look at her and luckily she was taken out of the room by a counselor right then.

From me, this quiz received zero points. And a depressed exhale...

In a more flagrant offense of not caring about my class, this particular picture of a paper is not a note I confiscated. This was a student’s quiz of four questions that I had posted on the board. you’re reading it correctly, she answered, “La La La La La La La La”. I guess her capitalized Las were a reflection of what was going on in her mind at the moment. Ughhhhh.

Another funny but really-not-so-funny-when-you-think-about-it moment happened in my 7th grade class on Thursday. After reading article about pollution and reviewing the vocabulary word, ‘toxin’, my entire class excitedly agreed that gasoline smells good. A long-winded student then added, “My mother said that when was pregnant with me…she used to go to the gas station, to go smell the gasoline. She loves the smell!” She kind of stared blankly at me and I just bit my lip and tried to continue with the toxin talk.

Best Thank U Ever

Finally, in a bonus this week, this is a picture of an actual “Thank You Note” that a sixth grader wrote to an editor of a magazine. It is part of a career program that we run at school, and thankfully, our teacher made her write a more appropriate one after reading this.


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