Friday, September 11, 2009

"Teachers have to be strong"

"Wow, Miss Brave's strong."
"Yeah, teachers have to be strong."
--student conversation as I open a top window with one of those giant window poles

On the first day of school, when I walked into the cafeteria to pick up my class from lunch, their 27 faces lit up and I heard my name rising amongst the chatter: "Miss Brave! Miss Brave!" and I felt that rush of the pleasure of having my own class for the very first time.

On the second day of school, when I couldn't start my after-school program with my seven 50 minutes students because we didn't have our student books in yet and all the kids wanted to know "What are we going to do now?" and I was flat out of ideas, I got them to help me sort markers and Fundations tiles and do other jobs around the classroom (my classroom). They were so pleased and so eager to help -- "Can I have another job?" "I want to help too!"

Today, on the third day of school, William threatened to punch another student in the face. I took it as a threat against all of us, against the classroom community I'm trying to build. Later in the day, I found myself yelling -- at him -- for the first time. The rest of my new class was slightly stunned. William merely smiled.

A commenter on my last post suggested that I make William into a leader. Believe me, I tried. Because he's the tallest boy in our class (by about a foot), I made a big deal about how it was his responsibility to watch over the back of the line and make sure everyone was behaving in the hall. The next thing I know, 26 other faces are turned around in the stairwell, and kids at the back of the line are warning me that William is about to jump from mid-staircase. He loves to act as my helper, but he seems incapable of doing it without calling someone else stupid or making fun of his classmates. I gave him a teddy bear to hold onto during group lessons in the hopes it would keep his hands occupied; he used it as a weapon.

But then he came into school and bragged that he had brought in all his school supplies; and then he sat up straight and tall with his hands folded after writing more than a page in Writers' Workshop. But then he snarled "Duhhhh!" at other students who eagerly answered questions; and then he usurped my rocking chair, pushing it violently back and forth.

I have 27 second graders in my class. My girls for the most part are wonderful, good listeners and followers of directions. My boys are chattier than they should be, and a few of them are emotional and moody. But William by far receives the most of my time and energy, and I'd wager that he occupies the attention of my other students as well; when he's not harassing them, he's making them laugh; when he's not scowling at them, he's distracting them with his antics. He's 100% That Kid -- the kid that makes you think, "If only I didn't have That Kid in my class, my class would be perfect...other kids would get so much more attention without That Kid around...That Kid ruins everything!"

Since school has started, my 27 second graders have completely erased my appetite: good for my wedding dress waistline, bad for my mental health. By the time I got home today, I was in tears and tatters, which is always made worse when I realize that there is little to no chance that That Kid is at home right now crying over me.

But enough about That Kid. I have a weekend to live.


mcaitlin said...

and a super fun weekend it shall be!

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to convince the school to tell William that if he behaves and works hard at reading he can move to third grade midyear? Would it help?