Strangely Calm

Oddly enough, I was remarkably...strangely...calm today in the English classes. And no, it wasn't because all the children were magically caught up.

Yes, I had several kids who had their rough drafts done when they walked in...amazingly enough.

But then, I had a few come in without their rough drafts done, claiming it was finished -- but forgotten at home...

a couple who had a page and a half of handwritten pages -- tops (it's supposed to be 750-1000 words, so they were WAY underthemark)

a couple who flat out didn't have it done....and pretended to be shocked it was due today (Despite the dayglo green timeline they've had since pre-day-1)

and one child who has been on walkabout since topic selection day...and just turned up in my room today.

For all of these, I calmly wrote down their 'completion' grade, and turned my attention to the ones who were finished.

No hysterics.

No mad anxiety-attack-driven dash to get them caught up.

Just calmness.

And an inner voice that reallllly wanted to be heard: At this point, if you don't have your rough're never going to catch up. Let me be the first to welcome you to Junior English, Spring 2007.

I got them (translated: those that were finished) started on the Peer Editing Worksheet....and actually had time to sit at my desk and work on my grades.

...without answering 90 gajillion ridiculous questions ("ridiculous" because the question had been asked/answered/discussed previously...that person just didn't listen).

...without telling people over and over and over to Shut. Up.

(Except for TalentedWriterGirls who don't know the meaning of "inside voice". They about drove me crazy and the student in between them deaf. They're very strong writers, and they were actually discussing their papers, but DAMN does it have to be SO LOUD??!?!)

One downside. Buggy had a stomach bug this weekend....(he had been by my room Friday afternoon and looked ROUGH) I wasn't surprised when he said he barely crawled out of bed to come to school this morning, and he only did like 2 pages on his essay. The Beauty of The Bug is this: he did not argue with me about getting a lower grade because his essay wasn't finished. In fact, he got upset with me because he thought I was bumping the grade up to "help him out". He WANTED me to give him the zero. I had to convince him that I did the same for BrainiacSlackerGirl behind him who did less than he did.

What a kid.

For all his athletic and math/science skills...he realllllly is not a strong writer. English is not his first it's harder for him to get his point across as easily as he can in Spanish, which bugs him. (If I let him write in Spanish, he'd blast through it...but then I wouldn't be able to read it. Small downside.)

Plus he didn't totally understand that it's not just "Retell the Author's Life Story" in 750-1000 words. (Like many of the kiddos...thanks to the CRAPPY packet & outline I inherited. Kids don't get that the topic heading "Influences" means "What from their life affected how/what they wrote?" --- I'm changing it for next year, rest assured.)

So, in order to get him to understand "Prove your thesis by talking about ONLY the parts of his life that apply..." we spent a great deal of time talking about his author's life and getting to know Mr. W.E.B. DuBois and his battle on racism. (Sidenote: I'm not sure I'll ever get used to, or be okay with, having a conversation about racism & discrimination with a kid...and them accepting being on the receiving end of it as common occurence. That kills me.)

By this time, class was over, and he was nowhere close to writing it on his own. So, I wrote Coach V an email so he could stay with me to work on the essay rather than going to gymnastics. (I figure Coach owes me one.) After we had re-read one of his source articles verrrrry closely, and discussed how painful daily life would have been for the young DuBois, I finally asked him which parts of DuBois' early life had to do with "articulate writing style" "broke racial barriers" and "won awards" (the key words from his thesis). He put it in Buggyterms for me, which I jotted down as he talked.

I then said, "Welcome to the first 2 pages of your paper. Here's your outline."

Damn. But that bulb above his head was bright when it kicked on.

And then, out came the smile.

"Miss, I get it!"

What a kid.