May 13 2008

Ah, sweet, sweet extended day planing period.

Right now I’m taking a break from using my 45 extra blissful minutes of freedom to handwrite pleas to North Carolina legislators (asking them to support Teach For America’s request for money from the state) to blog a little. As cynical as I feel about TFA (and that is…very cynical) I still can’t help but feel that at its core it is a very good hearted organization that does a lot for the communities it serves. I can’t seem to resist being involved in the organization and its efforts, even if I never have quite “drunk the Kool-Aid,” as they say. 

This week is slowly trickling by and it will be a miracle if I make it through without doing some sort of bodily harm to J, a student in my first period. 

J, author of many of the extemporaneous “raps” that have appeared on this blog, has always been a difficult student. He is an interrupter and, if I may play armchair psychologist, has a fairly severe case of undiagnosed (or unmedicated, anyway) ADHD. On any given day, J will get up and wander about the classroom at will, keep up a low undercurrent of chatter/ rap/ babble throughout anything that we are doing, attempt to drag the class off topic by telling a long, pointless, usually untrue, and often inappropriate for school story, and pester me with repeated requests to leave the class “to spit.” (I have by now at least trained him to say “expectorate.” Vocabulary first!) 

None of this is really new to me. I have certainly had students like this in the past and he’s usually cheerful and displays at least a slick layer of surface respect toward me. There is a streak of meanness in him that has kept me from ever really probing any closer. 

These last few days something has gone off the rails. If his previous disruptions ranked at about an 8 out of 10, these are at an 11. The urgency and the constant me, me, me, attention seeking are becoming worse. He seems truly thwarted when I wont let him embark upon one of his long stories and the number of times I have to say, “J, grab a seat. J, please sit down.” In a period have probably doubled. 

I don’t know if there is something going on with him at home, or if it is just the time of year, or if he is hitting that wall that a lot of my kids hit at this point in their academic career, where it becomes clear to them that they will probably not graduate. Whatever it is it has become a serious problem in my 1st period and one way or another it stops tomorrow. 

We’ll see how that goes.

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