The day began again with Ms. W’s language arts class and I had less of a tutor role again today. I was mostly observing how each student was responding to the material and the work. Many of the students were annoyed with work or the volume of work. One of the students asked “why we do so much work.” Ms. W told them “one day you’ll thank me.” It was an expected answer—something I heard numerous times as a K-12 student. The writer workshop was a wonderful tool for aspiring writers or students wanting to actually be creative. The class enjoyed giving suggestions for where they could take the story they imagined. This amount of control over the class is a break from following orders. Here, they can play with the pieces of the plot, the characters, and setting.
I tutored a girl named Jz’zhane. She enjoyed trying to make the story “work” whatever that may mean. I guided her, asked questions about how to improve the story and building it. It turned out to be a fairy tale with a damsel in distress, a knight in shining armor, and an unlikely resolution. Afterwards, when the storyline was set, we discussed what she likes to do with her time (shopping), her little sister getting a Nintendo DS (she rather have clothes), and her new shoes (Converse All-Stars). I felt bad spending all my time with this one student when I’m sure other students hadn’t even started to write their storylines. Many of these students needed a push. I can only wonder as of right now what the other students wrote or, specifically, what the boys wrote about.
The second period I took part in was finishing up The Watsons Go to Birmingham. I had not noticed but the book was a Coretta Scott King Award winner. Whoever chose the book must be trying to inform the readers by adding these books to the curriculum. The issues in the book are amazingly well presented but it seems lost on these children or merely unspoken. They have little to discuss when it comes to the book’s major themes. However, when discussing the book’s dedications, four children who died in the 16th Street Baptist church bombing (an actual event), they realize these children are approximately their age, but time has removed much of the meaning, and because it is not on television, the written word itself creates a separation. There should be an appeal to the relationship between the children and the content. There should be a constant reminder that this fictional book was written hand-in-hand with history.
Mr. C’s class was uproarious with disruptions, unlike Ms. Ws class. I was finally told today that his fourth hour math class contains former special education students. The wording and mentality of Mr. C is understandable but vocalizing his dejection from actually teaching them is a bit unnerving. I’m sure Mr. C is not a rare case because I can tell others share his frustration. Stevie was one of the students who could not let go of an argument with another student which dominated all conversation and any attempt to teach. He was able to answer some of the problems but the problem was he thought the letter “x” was a multiplication symbol rather than the variable “x” when answering a general question to the class “what is a parallel line to this equation?” Mr. C halted teaching because he wanted to explain and dwelled far too long on the child’s mistake. I tried to tell him “that’s close enough.” Disagreeing with a student immediately creates this animosity between the student and the teacher, and I have never been put-down or completely corrected by a teacher in K-12. Many of them had this incredible psychological hold over me that made me believe I was right even when I was completely wrong. I thought it was a great skill many of my former teachers had to inspire students to answer and participate. Mr. C has been teaching for seven years but seems to be stuck in his frustration and even told me “if I try, I’d just lose my voice.”