My second period class is my smallest, and incidentally, most immature group of students. They're very distractible, they call out in class all the time, they get out of their seats to visit each other, and somehow none of them really seem to think there is anything amiss about this behavior in a high school honors class. I also have a few students who are native spanish speakers, they are constantly in spanish conversation. It's kind of like a game of Whack-A-Mole. As soon as I get one kid quiet and settled, someone else makes a comment that gets everyone distracted. Anyway, just the other day I was struggling to keep them on task through an activity and I realized as I was giving some instructions that about half of the class was staring into space. Not just zoned out because history is boring, but staring intently at something. I had to stop and ask. "What on earth are we all looking at?" A teacher can get pretty self-conscious in front of a bunch of teenagers, so I wanted to make sure there wasn't something on my face or in my hair. No. There wasn't. When I asked, someone responded that they were literally all staring at a floating piece of lint in the air. Wow. Really?! I had a mind to administer some Ritalin to all of them on the spot. Talk about the attention span of a gnat!
2) The Bratz Doll
In that same class I have a student who looks exactly like a Bratz doll. She is light-skinned, mixed race, and very very pretty. She has bright blue color contacts, perfect almost professional-looking make up every day, manicured nails, hair that looks like it's been done at the salon every morning, and designer clothes. Seriously, this girl looks like she has a personal stylist. I can only guess that maybe her mom was so thrilled to have a little girl that she raised her like her own personal Barbie doll? Well, she looks much more like a Bratz doll, but whatever. Sadly, although this girl is smart she acts a lot like you'd expect a Bratz doll would act. Not necessarily like a "brat" but more like her plastic head is hollow. The other day in class everyone is working quietly on an assignment and she raised her hand. When I called on her, she asks, "Mrs. Beck, what would happen if I passed out right here in class?" What? Seriously?? I stared back at her, blinked a few times, and went back to what I was doing.
3) Parent Connection
This story is from a while back. I had a parent come in for a conference. She seemed nice. Her daughter is one of my best students too. Not too long into the conference the mom begins explaining to me how her daughter hates history and thinks its so boring and wants to know what I plan to do to keep her child interested. I explain. And then she asks, "So what will happen in the spring when you go on leave?" I thought maybe there was something I had missed. Surely she wasn't simply asking about what happens when a teacher is absent. But she was. So I gave the only answer I had, "Well, a substitute will come in and teach my classes for the rest of the quarter." She seemed satisfied. What did she think was going to happen??
Students and parents say the strangest things sometimes. Stay tuned for more stories straight from the public school classroom next week!