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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Documenting My Class and What Really Goes On There

I have decided, at least for a while, to document what goes on in my classroom both in what I am teaching and the way I interact with the students.  I thought someone ought to tell what really happens here. I will not use any names, just some initials, perhaps even just one of those.

This semester I am teaching Advanced Placed Literature and Composition (AP Lit), Advanced Placement Language and Composition (AP Lang) and English III.

The topics for those courses today were:

AP Lit: Shakespeare's King Lear
AP Lang: The rhetorical situation, specifically Lou Gehrig's "Farewell Address"
English III: Poetic devices, specifically Edward Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory"

Here are some of the incidents that came up in class today.

T had his earbuds in listening to his music. I had to tell him a couple of times to take them out.
J had her head down on her desk despite my attempts to get her up and engaged. She did little work.
X has been absent now for 4 days straight. Someone said that he is in the hospital.
C called a girl a "bitch ass" and told another to "shut your punk ass." I called his mom who said that she would address this problem.
J had her phone out, partly covered by her bag. When I told that she had to put it away and not hide it, she got defensive over the fact that I thought she was hiding it, which was not the point at all.
In another class, D had her head down on her desk and became upset when I forbid her doing it. She only partially finished her work.
D also had his earbuds in most of class.
I spent most of the hour doing work for another class despite the fact that I told her that she had to do the work in this one. She did not put up her work or do the work in my class.
Q likes to wander around the room when I am helping other students.  He did this several times.
M kept getting phone calls from her "father," and when I told her to put the phone away and not talk on it, she called me a "weirdo," her favorite term for teachers who tell her she cannot do whatever she wants in school.

We recently ended having lunch detention because it was not effective in altering students behavior.
If we give an lunch detention, it will have to be in our classrooms during our lunch hour. I don't share a lunch hour with most of these kids.
Our administration is trying to curb suspensions both in and out of school.
What am I to do?

1 comment:

Ivan Hutchcroft said...

I have no answer as to what to do, but I do have an answer as to what not to do. Don't quit teaching. We desperately need compassionate thoughtful teachers.