Sunday, December 21, 2008

December stories

My students have recently found out that I don't have a TV. (At least, not one that shows television programs). They cannot understand this; it does not fit into their world view.

"But what do you do for entertainment?" they ask. "How do you get your news?"

I talk about books, the radio, the newspaper, the internet. They are still mystified.

Later, I am sitting in the hallway with a few kids, sorting minerals. Julio looks thoughtful. Finally, he says, "You know, Ms. Swamp, we have two TVs at my house. You could have one if you want."

I know he is offering me something very big, even though it is something I really don't want.

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Jarad and I haven't been getting along too well. He looks bored, spaced-out, and annoyed almost all the time. He rolls his eyes at me on a regular basis, and mutters rude things under his breath. Then he is rude to Ms. Annie at recess. I call him over to talk.

"What is going on, Jarad?" I ask. "It seems like you don't like school much anymore."

"I don't!" he answers emphatically. "It's so boring!"

I ask if he liked it last year. Yes, he did. We make a list of what feels different this year. I realize that our latest math units, on data and geometry, are not challenging enough. I am good at making the units on numbers and operation more challenging, but the geometry and data units for second grade are new to me, and I've been teaching them mostly as they are written. It is kind of boring for him.

We make some plans for the new year, so that school feels better to him. We agree that I will ask him to do things in a more friendly way, if he will respond more politely. I promise that both math and writing are going to be harder and more exciting in January.

The next day, he gets to go see the Celtics practice as part of a local reading program. "Bring me something back!" I joke as he leaves.

When he returns later in the afternoon, he rushes into the room where I am meeting with other teachers.

"Ms. Swamp," he says, "I brought you something!"

He hands me a paperback book. "It's about bikes!" he announces proudly. He has chosen a children's chapter book about Lance Armstrong for me. He knows I love to ride my bike.

If I doubted it before, I am sure now that we've made up.

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