Quite a weekend. I came in to school today to discover that one of my students, Rick Winston, was shot and killed on Saturday night. He was a rather friendly, comparatively intelligent and eager senior who had to retake freshman English. A gang related death, so they say. Apparently there was a fight in the parking lot after I left on Friday, a fight that he was involved in in some way. Fights are a little more serious than when I was in high school, and the consequences of winning or losing far greater than ever before. It was frightening, but what was even more frightening was the equanimity with which they took it. They were not upset or disgusted, as I was, but merely curious as to who he was. A dead kid. That's who he is. Anyway, the day seemed harder as a result. I did not do as good a job as I could have, and they were spunkier than usual, which caused me to lose my temper.
In Hour 1, I gave the tests back, which caused a bit of despair, and we discussed the answers. The strike was on again, though Dennis was eager to reply. Thank goodness. Aisling knows all the answers, but is so shy (and seems so gloomy) that she rarely speaks out. After tests, and their disparagement of the grading system with its 1/2 points, we did my expectation page. They took it better than I thought, but Diamond is hating me more each day and is almost openly defiant. We had a tussle, and a battle, but I hope that after a while they will catch on to the direction I am trying to lead them. I spent quite a while on this, and we had about 15 minutes left to discuss the aspects of society that they are going to attempt to resolve tomorrow. Their thinking is so immature, and they are proud of it. They say "I'll take all the money for myself" and "I'll get all the beautiful women"; they want to act as dictators rather than philosopher-kings. I hope they can accomplish something with this "co-operative learning" task. They haven't had much time to work with me.
In Hour 2 I was clever enough to hand out tests after, rather than before, the expectations. They were wild. They screamed loud and long about their grades, and the 2 cheaters both seemed disgusted with themselves (or me, I'm not sure which). It degenerated into a wild and tempestuous battle for control. Tomorrow, no one sits anywhere other than in desks I've let them and they are always jerks. I hate to have to behave like that, but they refuse to accept privilege without reducing it to a victory that they must exploit.
Hour 3, Rick's class, was responsive and intelligent. We finished the test and still managed to get our expectation sheet discussed. They were great and tomorrow they should be ready to work on their vision of reality. I'm optimistic for this class.
Hour 5 took most of the class to take the test, and managed to do a fairly poor job at it. Nigeria, surly as ever, took more time to do less work than ever before. Saundra and Marika want good grades, and are eager to help. We discussed the philosophical points I'm trying to get them to think about, and some were there and some were not. They didn't have much time, and I hated to rush through it, but we are spending too many days doing too little.
Hour 6 was the best and worse class of the day. Again, about 7 kids were missing (relatives and friends of Rick) so I didn't do the preposition test but we discussed Utopia (Utopium?) here as well. I gave them their expectation sheets, and they moaned loudly, but I hope that once they get on the computer they can see that it is do-able. But they were fools, throwing paper at each other, and though I forced them to pick it up, and I know that they were affected by what happened, I am at a loss. They are just on the edge of chaos. Together we can make it. And I hope that we will. Tomorrow I am going to a basketball game. It is something they seem eager for me to do. I hope they win BIG! It would please me, and them, immeasurably. (They lost the homecoming game after leading by a bunch. They just can't seem to finish them off.)
After school, Mrs. Korman and I prepared "down slips" for the kids getting D's and F's in Hours 1 and 2. Almost half (though that includes those that never come.) Not exactly a sterling advertisement for the program.