I witnessed a trusted soul turn in another student's journal, an argument over which student called me a whore, and bizarre challenges to my grades. I have two students pretty upset that they aren't getting A's this semester. Let's meet them.
Buffy is on an IEP--which means she is some sort of special ed. She normally watches me slack jawed while I teach and after the elaborate song and dance of my teaching will raise her hand and grace me with a robot like, "I'on't git it.". So I back up, thanking her for the question and noting that if she had this question, lots of other students probably had it too. So I probe, "What's the first thing I said that you had trouble with?".
"I'on't git it. Nunuvit."
So I dance back to the beginning. Even when I am tempted to go back to "Hi, I'm Ms. Educat and this is English II.". I have rexplained and paraphrased every work of literature we have read. I have drawn pictures of every form of writing we have done. And at the end, I always look at Buffy, smile, and say, "Does that help?".
"No. I'on't git it."
She muddles through her work and despite her low estimation of her ability, has eeked out a C. She's average! She never gits it but has worked up to average!! Ring the bells!
But no, she wants an A. Why come she don't have one?
I'on't git it, so let's move on.
Jody has just tested out of English Language Learning. This means his conversation skills are rated proficient. Anyone care to imagine what that means about his instructional reading level? He works mightily in class. He wants the short path out, but I don't often give it to him. I let him work at home to finish assignments that take the rest of the class twenty minutes--and he does it at home. I praise him to the class and call him my hardest worker, and his work shows. He's making a B. He's above average! But he hardly looks at me in class today and ignores me repeatedly and when I finally pull his problem out, he just can't get why he doesn't have an A.
Learning should hurt. It should be a good hurt, but it should hurt. Somewhere, in big and small ways, we have communicated that an A is everyone's right. We are all excellent. Again, I'on't git it.
So when I tell you this, I am not asking for an A. I just want credit. I just want credit for not having said any of these things out loud this week.
- I did not tell the child who told me "thass retarded" that he couldn't leave on a hall pass in the middle of the final that perhaps it is retarded, and he can write it an IEP and stick it on a short bus, but it isn't going away.
- I asked no child if they were raised by servants.
- When Jesus fell asleep in class, I didn't sing "Away In A Manger" (and I will admit that if it started on a lower note, I might have).
- At no time, did I use the phrase "despite your best efforts" as in "You have a D, despite your best efforts."
There. Thank you. Now I love people again.