I don’t have time to write text posts anymore, or I don’t make time. Either way, I don’t. But, today was particularly something, so I feel like it warrants something.
1. Wake up, get ready, get to school.
2. Check school email; receive email from a parent who is: A. appreciative that you sent a reminder email about an assignment that was due today, B. upset that you didn’t send the email earlier, and C. frustrated that they are a parent.
3. Shrug off the frustration in order to greet and welcome 30 freshman, some settle and some don’t and wander around the room, hitting each other. I say “Please, make a better choice” several times. One child is the most ADHD I’ve ever seen but not medicated because parents don’t believe in it. One child just moved from another state to live with his dad after 10 years. Another child only draws the entire hour. Another child says “Thank you” to me after every class. They have the aforementioned assignment due. Even after 80 minutes of class time, many don’t turn it in. Many say they “didn’t have time”.
4. They take a word prefix/suffix quiz; after, some read “The Shining” or “The Book Thief”. Others can only look at picture in magazines.
5. Round #2: another 30 freshman. One child freezes when adults talk to him. Another child loves to talk about the social construction of gender. Another’s mom was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; he acts so happy all the time. One child is unwashed, smells so bad that others around him tuck their heads into their shirts. He was homeless last year, and mom says they’re getting eviction notices now.
6. Prep period: Cut short by an IEP meeting for student who threw a fire extinguisher at a teacher last week, stole a laptop this week and broke into several cars at the mall, maybe someone’s house too. He’s been nice to me in our English class. He and mom are 20 minutes late. She breaks down immediately, starts talking really fast about how people aren’t in her head because “no one knows what she’s thinking”. Everyone in the room agrees that the family needs mental health support but we can’t provide it. The principal reiterates that his behavior is dangerous; she is offended, gets up, and leaves, saying “You’re kicking us out of this school”. We spend another 45 minutes outlining a plan for her son that she probably won’t agree to.
7. I missed my 5th hour for the IEP; 6th hour is below grade-level readers and writers. It takes 5 minutes to settle them down after their passing time. They jump on each other’s backs, knock things off desks, kick backpacks, dart in and out of the room. They want to popcorn read and my co-teacher and I hesitatingly agree. They are awesome. It’s like poetry, they take turns without distraction, they read for 15 minutes together, popcorning. Then, we try to transition to a new activity and they are yelling, swearing at each other, knocking things off desks. I take deep breaths.
8. Study Skills: Students have a big project due in History in 10 days. Two kids are working on computers, one kid is just playing “All about that Bass” on Youtube. One child just stares at his computer the whole period, doesn’t move a finger. Many of them leave their seats to try to jump up to the ceiling. I explain what a “democracy” is. I explain why it’s important to capitalize a name, like Adolf Hitler.
That’s Friday. It’s so hard to describe the rollercoaster that is any given day in a high school. In the span of a 50 minute class period, there are so many ups and downs and things that happen that would make a normal person rethink everything about their life. I think I am a normal person, so I often do. It’s hard to capture the insanity, maybe next time I’ll try to articulate the whole week.
In a study of children aged 2-5, parents interrupted their daughters more than their sons, and fathers were more likely to talk simultaneously with their children than mothers were. Jennifer Coates says: “It seems that fathers try to control conversation more than mothers… and both parents try to control conversation more with daughters than with sons. The implicit message to girls is that they are more interruptible and that their right to speak is less than that of boys.”
Girls and boys’ differing understanding of when to talk, when to be quiet, what is polite and so on, has a visible impact on the dynamics of the classroom. Just as men dominate the floor in business meetings, academic conferences and so on, so little boys dominate in the classroom - and little girls let them.
Working with children for over a decade, this is something I’ve noticed, actually. And for the majority, the little girls in my class and my co-worker’s classes all sit quietly and listen MUCH better than the boys do. Most boys don’t care to be quiet and sit still. And I don’t think this is an attribute of boys being “rowdier” or more “hyper” - believe me, the girls are JUST as off the wall as the boys if you aren’t telling them not to. It must be a learned behavior, and it must be enforced more with the girls so they know they can’t get away with it. You have no idea how many times in my career I’ve heard “boys will be boys,” and smiling parents as they tell me with a laugh, sorry, their son is “wild” and a “handful” as they introduce him to the class.
And that’s how you do sexism. That’s how it’s so effectively trained into every single citizen and indoctrinated as normal and right.