Monday, January 08, 2007


Today was the first day back from Winter break. I felt anxious before first period started. I ran the lesson over in my head to make sure I had it right before I taught. It felt like the morning before the first day of school. I was nervous.

A few girls came in earlier than usual and ran up to my desk wishing me a happy new year. It seemed like they might have wanted to hug me, but the desk made the transition awkward and although normally I'm a very huggy person I'm still wary of touching students. The administration offers lots of warning against any physical contact. I immediately regretted not hugging them though, it felt silly.

When first period started I tried to get the attention of my students so I could teach a new lesson. First period is very difficult to teach because there is always a steady stream of latecomers knocking at the door. I have never had even 50% of my students by the time the tardy bell rings and when a kid comes late you have to make sure they have a pass so that they'll get a detention, often they argue with me at the doorway and won't leave to get a pass until I push them out and lock the door. It's an interruption.

The kids were excited to be back from break and one kid in particular, Jerrel, wouldn't quit talking. He was telling a very loud story about some sexual experience he'd had over break. "On my life, I swear!" he said following doubting eyes from the other boys around him. His story was graphic and he would quiet down for the dirty parts. I heard him anyway. Jerrel has one of those voices you can hear above all others. I asked him to be quiet a few times and finally I told him to shut up. I'd never told a kid to shut up before and I immediately felt bad about it. Jerrel retorted. "Man you shut up!" and then "Fuck you anyway" under his breath. I told him to leave and wrote him up.

When school was almost over for the day I saw Jerrel hiding in the stairwell, skipping class. I said "Jerrel, what are you doing?" He said "man, why do you hate me for?"

I was kind of shocked when he said this. It sounded like a sincere question. How did he know I hated him? Do I hate him? Is that wrong? I felt a wave of guilt. "I don't hate you, but you always act up in my class". He didn't say anything and I walked away feeling bad. Maybe if I tried to be nice to him he would be better in my class.

Walking away from Jerrel I remembered that before Winter break he had squirted juice all over one of the computers in my classroom and refused to clean it up. It took me 20 minutes to get the juice out of the keyboard and there are still pockets of blue liquid in there that I can't get out.

I hope he skips my class tomorrow.


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