Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Time to crack some skulls

A few posts ago, I mentioned my out-of-control 3rd period 7th graders. Today was the last straw. Last week, I had previously warned my V.P. in an email that things were going to get ugly this week if things were business as usual. In the email, I was essentially begging for help, because I have done all I can do on my end, and then some. My V.P. wrote me back and told me to send 'em, no matter how many it took. It took two. Today, I sent two of my frequent flyers to the office with referrals after having given them ample warning to stop disrupting my lesson. After I sent down the second one, the V.P. and the Principal walked into my classroom a couple minutes later. My V.P. read the class the riot act, and then asked me if there were any other students that needed to leave. I pointed out three more who were on their way to being kicked out, and they were escorted from my classroom, making a total of five removals. And then, imagine that, I was able to get on to my lesson for the rest of the period, and the class was polite, on-task, and inquisitive about the subject matter. Up until that point, I had been unable to begin that lesson.

I taught my fourth period class, then it was time for lunch. About halfway through my lunch, the V.P. called me and said that the mother of the first student I kicked out was in his office and wished to speak to me. I got very excited because I have about 10 contact logs filled out on her kid where I called home, but I had yet to get a phone call back from this lady. I was soon to find out why.

I walked into the V.P.'s office with my parent contact log binder in hand, and the mother who awaited me told me everything I needed to know about this kid. The mother was probably my age, yet looked about 20 years older. She wore those stylish glasses that I have only ever seen black people wear; she was wearing a hip-hop t-shirt featuring an "artist" named... ahem... Yukmouth; and to top off her appearance, she had a prominent gold tooth. I mean, seriously, the woman was a walking cliche. But wait, it gets better! The mom started tearing into me about how her son may be "spirited", but he's really a good boy, and that basically, I ought to just cut him some slack, and that it was unfair that he was being suspended for the day just because he talked a little bit in class today. I calmly explained to the mom that her darling child was not being removed from class for one little incident today, but for a string of chronic disruptions that have taken place all year long. I then pulled out my parent contact log binder to show her the many attempts I had made to contact her regarding her child, yet I was unable to reach her, either due to disconnected numbers, unreturned voice mails, and in two cases, I was hung up on as soon as I identified myself. It was at this point in the conversation that my jaw dropped to the floor. The mom told me (and I quote),
I ain't got time to be returnin' all dem phone calls. I got nine kids and I'm a single mother, and by the time I get around to returnin' yo call, a couple days have passed and talkin' to [my kid] about it wouldn't do no good.
Holy Promiscuity, Batman! Nine kids? Single mother? Achievement gap, anyone?

Of the five students (all male by the way) who were removed from my classroom, four of them were sent home, and one got to stay, but he probably wished he could go home, because his mom shadowed him in his classes for the rest of the day. The V.P. told me we are probably going to get more bleating and blustering from these parents, especially if any of these frequent flyers get kicked out again tomorrow, but he says it's worth it, as these students don't just disrupt my class. It just pains me that it has to get to this point in the year before drastic action is taken; action that should have been taken at least six months ago.

Send good thoughts my way from about 10:30 to 11:15 tomorrow - I will probably need the support.

Good Day to You, Sir


t said...

Well, did you make it out alive?

Chanman said...

They weren't much better today, but I only had to kick out one instead of five.

Charity said...

My heart just breaks when I read these posts about your classes. It sounds like that woman's nine kids hardly have a chance to amount to anything decent.

I think it is amazing that you do what you do. Instead of getting swallowed up by the insanity of the system, like most teachers do, you stand up for what is right. You deserve a big thank you.

If even one student you come down on turns his or her life around, even slightly, you are a hero in my book.

Darren said...

Of course they can start kicking the kids out now. ADA calculations stop in April, so no money is lost when the kids are sent home.

Chanman said...

Now Darren,
Don't be a cynic ;)

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

And why did it take this long for your AP to back you up?

And I've had one of those families, too. 11 kids. When we finally got the mother in, she listened a while and then put her hed down and wailed "But I gots 11 "chilbren" and I bes TIRED!!!!" and I thought about how she got those eleven children. I've heard that a bed is sometimes involved.

She had 11 children and free lunch-- and a satellite dish. Hmm. And her children don't deserve to suffer because of her choices.

Mister Teacher said...

Isn't it amazing how much kids reflect their parents??

The Vegas Art Guy said...

As a future teacher I am happy to see your issue was finally resolved to your satisfaction. Looks like I get to add another blog to my blogroll. :)

Anonymous said...

Props to the mom who at least cared enough to come in and shadow her son around. I bet he has the best chance of not acting up next time.

Pissed Off said...

I had a mom tell me I needed to have patience with teenagers after I had her daughter removed from class. With a mom like that, it is no wonder kids are nuts.

Chanman said...

Hey pissed off,
I have a girl in that very class whose mother told me pretty much the same thing. The mom said, "Well, she is only 12 years old. You can't expect her to act very mature."

This is when I always love to bring up my Admiral David Farragut story, who in the early 1800s, was given command of a captured British warship at the age of 12. Not mature indeed...

Natalie said...

I commend you on having a communication log. It is exactly this kind of moment, with any parent, that backs up the actions of the teacher.
Here in Albuquerque, we had a HS senior get his grade changed (you may have read about it, big political brouhaha) because they couldn't prove the teacher, principal, school actually contacted the parents (one a city councilor and one a former board of education member) and it was blown back on the teacher/principal/school that the kids "deserved" to have his grade changed.
Oh, what a big stink that caused!
I'm a parent. I totally get that kids don't bring home notes, will erase emails/voicemails, etc... but I am involved... and the crap that was going on in your classroom is absolutely intolerable.
Good for you for getting some action and consequences for these trouble makers!