Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Just like at the “behavior problems school,” students at Friday’s middle school also begin the day with 15 minutes of silent reading. The “regular” students behaved much worse than the “problem” students, setting the tone for a long day. The group next tackled a science reading assignment. Did you know that phytoplankton provide most of our oxygen?

From “Z” building of the campus-style school, I scurried to a new room for a class that seemed to be more of a world cultures class than a foreign language class. The kids had endless worksheets of reading, comprehension questions, and vocabulary. In response, Lou kicked chairs the whole time, while Mark did his work quickly and quietly . . . by writing down anything that popped into his head. We compared-and-contrasted baseball and sumo (a reading piece) together, since the students (except April) claimed to know “nothing” about baseball.

And then, at last, it was time for the actual French class the call promised. They were good kids, though they sure didn’t seem to have been studying French for two years. I asked, “What have you been learning?” - “Nothing.” -- “Okay, do you know the French for that?” - “No.”

I wrote “RIEN” on the board. Two kids remembered it all the way through the lunch break and into the second half of class. Cool. We also practiced the passe compose. This class meets in the room of a social studies teacher, who spent some of the time working at her desk. She told me I did a good job engaging the kids.

The last class of this Friday, a health class of about 8 million cranky 13-year-olds, would not be engaged by the respiratory system reading. Quiet C.J. stood up and looked longingly out the door at the soccer field and track. Where are you headed? “I ain’t goin nowhere.” Yeah, I can see that.

The room was hot and stuffy. The kids were loud, and only about 6 (out of 30, I guess, really) even acted they were working. I had to shout. Chairs were flipped, books hit the floor, toy wind up cars and comic books appeared. “Why we gotta do this?” “I don’t wanna be here.” You don’t wanna be here? Who cast me for this poorly-scripted (or perhaps too well?) Substitute Teacher scene?

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