As I pointed out, this week has been just wonderful and amazing. One of the great things is that last year’s 8th graders have been stopping by to visit. I’ve been told, “So and so was looking for you. Did they find you?” Usually the answer is no. However, on Thursday and Friday that changed for the better.
I was blessed to see Josh, Nick, Kage, Emmanuel, Alycia, and Alyssa. My conversations with Josh and Nick were deep, silly, philosophical, joyful and long. They reminded me why I love adolescents, and how important it is to value them. Both had been clear last year they felt things weren’t right; however, as Josh told me, he couldn’t get an audience with the powers, plus he didn’t see them as wanting change. Then we talked Movable Feast and Zombies. I mean, really, let’s stick to the important things in life.
Nick is just as silly and fun as before. Whatever cinder-block sized chip he’d had was pretty much gone. He’d learned joy again. When I asked if I got a hug he said, “Of course! What do you think I’ve been expecting?” He’s taking animation so we were discussing potential future projects. Then he saw my AVENGING UNICORN. He may stop by to borrow it. Sure it was a “team” gift years ago, but everyone knows that it was meant for me. Really, if you think about it, how many teachers keep an “action figure” of Shakespeare or an Avenging Unicorn in their rooms? You know, with impressionable kids.
The most INTERESTING conversation, however, came from Emmanuel. After going through the “told-you-so” about his passing the Algebra test and going straight into Algebra II, he asked HOW he did it when he had a D- in class (most likely a gift, if you ask me). I reviewed that grades show effort and work ethic as well as understanding the curriculum. Fact is, grades are not simple since they assess more than KNOWLEDGE they assess work quality as well. I pointed out that he had told me, point-blank, that he was NOT going to put effort into work. He countered with he meant that only for language arts and social studies, to which I pointed out that a D- is hardly effort. Fact is, he knows he didn’t try.
What WAS interesting though, was when we talked about how Ms. So-and-So is now at school X as an assistant principal of discipline. Emmanuel looked SHOCKED and said, “But she’s not even mean. She NEVER disciplined anyone last year. That’s why it was so fun. We got away with SO MUCH stuff.”
He went on to explain how strange it was that the students were drinking (and thus bringing alcohol to school), smoking weed (and bringing pot to school), and marking up the campus (with graffiti pens) the whole year and no one did anything even when they were caught. I asked him if anyone tried to stop it. He looked at me and said, “Well, you always knew, but they weren’t about to listen to you. They didn’t like you. That’s why it was fun. We were going to get away with it all, with no consequences.” Then he asked if I remembered how mad I was when they told me everything they did wrong at Yosemite because they knew I couldn’t do anything about it. “Yes,” I said, “I remember.” It’s true. They were BRAGGING about how no one paid attention to them, what they brought, or how they acted once they went to “bed”.
Had I been in the same head space as I was last spring, this would have tipped me further. As it is, it does verify my feelings of being powerless and hopeless. The situation was that. While I haven’t processed the incident fully to figure out what would have been a better way to solve the problem, I was happy (if you can call it that) to be told the truth.
Interesting enough, they come back to me for structure. Apparently they can count on me to always be there, push them forward, and even play around. They come back because they know I’ll be honest and that I have their best interests at heart. In fact, Alyssa hugged me and told me she missed me because who else would tell her she was worth so much more than she thought. Sweet, huh? I guess that’s legacy, right?