Girls gone Wild, the Remix

Vanessa is trying to see the board for the directions to that day’s assignment. I had pretty much used the entire board, corner to corner. Two taller girls who sat near the front were between Vanessa and the board. Vanessa being much more petite was having trouble seeing around them. Hey Barbie twins, she says, trying to get their attention. One of the girls turns and is like, or no you didn’t staring back at Vanessa. (They were very tall, pretty girls – can’t remember their names right now – who did in fact look like Barbie twins. This was the first time I heard them referred to that way. I don’t know if it was something that was said behind their backs and this was the first time someone was calling them out by using that term. Looking back, I am not even sure why it was interpreted as an insult. I am guessing it was the way it was said.)

I get up from behind my desk and by the time I reach the girls each has the other by the hair with one hand and were swinging away with the other hand. The most logical thing to do is get in between, which I do.

BAM 😦

Hardest I have ever been hit breaking up a fight.

Other students helped separate the two girls. I don’t remember exactly, but about a week or so later all three girls were best friends.

:-/

That happened the first year I taught general ed. English I was really dedicated to making a difference with those kids. It was the second year of the high school exit exam testing program and kids were looking at the possibility of not graduating. They hired 4 of us from outside the district to work with the lowest of the low. When I say low; I mean 9th through 12th graders reading and writing at the lower elementary school levels.

They were a challenging group. One of the reasons they had gotten as far as they did was no one wanted to deal with them. Some students had serious behavior issues. I had been teaching 6 years by this point and knew the primary cause of most classroom behavior issues.

First, it’s not me 🙂 Many children face challenging home environments, too numerous to detail. Basically kids get to school not feeling so well, physically and/or emotionally. Second, adolescence is tough. I enjoyed mine, but I wouldn’t want to do it again. A lot of kids are just trying to get through theirs. Third, and this is why I was there, they don’t think they can perform in the classroom to my, the teacher’s, expectations. And they are right, their skills were such that for years they have been kicked out of class or ignored if they didn’t cause problems.

That wasn’t going to work with me. First of all, nothing bothers me; I have all the patience in the world to wait out your behavior. At this point, I had seen pretty much anything and everything.

Okay, Vanessa, Alexis (Alex) and Erica, those were the Barbie twins, were coming down the road, but I had broken fights up before, just not with girls

The schools demographics were/are very interesting. There was a significant portion from one of the poorest parts of the SGV, another group from a moderate income neighborhood, and another group that came from a hilltop above the school that surrounded a country club.

But you wouldn’t know it by their social groups or even the way they dressed. Most of them were, by their own definition “ghetto.” The ones with more money were “ghetto-fabulous,” thank you Mary J Blige.

It was quite a challenge at first. Having 20 sections in total the other teachers and I worked the first few weeks leveling off the class’s ability wise, as that had not been a consideration in their initial placement.

Go figure  -.-

Then we were a unique group of teachers so we started trading students class to class between ourselves. My ego was in no way bruised if one of my students performed better in another classroom over mine, or vice versa. We even did two for ones. Mostly in my case, as I had the reputation as “the behavior” teacher. I would take the more challenging of students in exchange for two of my better students. It was all good.

We really made a difference that year with those kids. All of them made at least two years progress in their abilities. About a third of students passed the exit exam the second time. We had great support from site and district administration. We met, the teachers working with the lowest of the low students, once a month and talked about our successes and failures with different strategies and different materials. We built a program from scratch.

Little did I realize it at the time, but I was about to do something similar 5 years later 😀

TMPI earlier. Thank you those that responded so positively to that blog and all of your positive responses. Hope you enjoy this one. See you all tomorrow.

Oh Wait. Let me share two of my FB post from yesterday:

Thinking…always thinking. If you are venturing out today, please stay focused when moving. A lot of people have more on their minds than usual. Anticipate “stupid”. Know everyone is not as thoughtful and caring as you 😀 Good morning! 🙂

and

Love all my friends. Know that if needed I will be there for you, always. And if necessary will do whatever it takes to see you smile again if the world makes you loose your smile. Amen

Okay, now I am done 😀

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