Saturday, October 18, 2008

pass - fail - swagger

My kids can't get over "Swagger Like Us". It's their ringtone, they try to get me to play it everyday for our freewrite. I love MIA's "Paper Planes", where the beat came from, and think that TI's verse is live, but damn... weezy, jigga, ye and MIA together? Sick. I hate admitting that I like anything Lil Wayne does, but it's the language my students speak. When asking them to make a list of the top 10 songs of all time this week, I should've just had them list the track list to 'The Carter 3", because that's what they did. Though J did surprise me by listing New Edition, and B loves Prince's "Purple Rain"!! They always surprise me.

I despise failing students. I try to find ways to have them pass, work out deals and make-up assignments, I aim to advocate for their success. This morning, as i'm sitting down with the mountain of paperwork, late assignments turned in last-minute to raise their grades, I have to come to terms with the fact that some of them will not pass. We have already had a few conversations about how high school is the time when they need to take responsibility for their education, when the work becomes on them.

I refuse to pander to them by incessantly bugging them about turning in missing assignments. I don’t feel that coddling them will produce independent, self-reliant thinkers and learners. But I understand that they just "clock-out" of school like a factory worker does at work and don't think about it again until the morning. I used to do that, too. Coming from a working class family, I had to train myself to do homework, so I'm starting off slow with them. It’s just difficult when it comes down to the end of the marking period and they don’t realize how their choices are affecting their grades. It’s all about making connections and this is an area that we need to work on together.

As I’m chatting with S on AIM about how she still has assignments to turn in, I am trying to take stock of the ways in which I put myself out there to assist them. Sometimes, it’s pretty unconventional, like having them be friends with me on myspace and giving them my AIM screenname. Let me be clear, they’re friends with my teacher page ( and I don’t just chat with them on AIM about anything, I keep it related to school. I've set up two weeknights a week where I am online from 6-8pm so they can ask me homework/paper questions while they're working. I also call home to parents A LOT, not only when they are acting out, but also when they’re excelling in my class. I keep my room open before school and during lunch for kids to come in and eat/do work. They're starting to be there all the time, already.

There’s a lot more that I can do, it’s just a question of finding balance and time. Thinking about how I can make my own practice better and more effective to assist them in becoming more responsible students. Organizing and reorganizing what I do and how I do, all of the time.

Outside of work, what’s going on with me? Not a whole helluva lot. I’m sad that I don’t make it to Brooklyn very often, and feel incredibly disconnected from a lot of people. We all get so busy, and we’re all tired and just want to rest sometimes, but it is truly unfortunate that proximity really does dictate how often you see people. I don’t take it personally and you shouldn’t either – I am sending all the love in my heart to my BK world. I plead with you to meet me halfway sometime and take an adventure up to the BX every once in awhile, it’s truly a magical place on 134th.

But don’t worry about me, I’m meeting all sorts of new people who blow my mind with their talent, their passion, their progress. I am truly astounded at what my life has become. It feels unreal to be doing this on the daily, to spring awake at 6am ready to go. I just would like to incorporate the old friends into the new world, thas all. Happy weekend! I’ll be grading, holla at me!


soundtrack to grading:
US muziq - secret agents
mystic - west coast
2pac - i wonder if heaven got a ghetto
TI/weezy/kanye/MIA - swagger like us
talib kweli - get by
binary star - evolution of man
athletic mic league - hurts so good remix
dawn penn - no no no
7 chakraz - gnarlton heston
the nobodies - mute (lyrics by me!!!!)
elvis presley - suspicious minds
bel biv devoe - poison
jurassic 5 - quality control

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