Friday, May 28, 2010

The door is locked, the lights are off

Yesterday was my final day of the school year. Originally, my final day was supposed to be June 5th, but we got one of those coveted California furloughs, so May 27th it was.

Since I teach mostly 8th graders, I was on the team of teachers who worked the 8th grade promotion ceremony. There were so many things about this ceremony that appalled me, I thought they warranted mention.

The first thing that appalled me was the absence of what usually appalls me. After we took roll, the 8th grade teachers took their charge down to the bus area for transport to the site where the ceremony was taking place. The buses were still arriving, so we had approximately 250 excited 8th graders standing around with nothing to do. You can imagine what kind of horrible behavior issues can start popping up in a situation like this, but the crowd was really quite tame. I mentioned to one of my fellow teachers how pleasantly surprised I was at the tranquility of the students, and he explained it with quite a logical observation of his own.

He said, "Think about it; who is missing from this crowd? It's that 5-percent of the behavior problems and misfits who are on the no-go list. Think about who is on that list and what it would be like out here right now if those students were here."

He was so tragically correct. That has always been one of the most significant frustrations I have always experienced about teaching, and that is how a relatively tiny number of students can have such a negative impact on the lives of others and of the atmosphere of a school.

Once we arrived at the high school whose gym we were borrowing for the occasion, I was appalled by the students there. My middle school is run as a relatively tight ship where baseball caps and beanies are not allowed, along with many other distracting clothing items and accessories. No such rules either existed or were enforced at this high school. If the school wasn't rife with actual gang members, it was certainly crawling with a lot of wannabes: baseball caps with the flat bills cocked to one side, "stunna" sunglasses, gang color-inspired outfit ensembles, the works.

Once inside the gym where the ceremony took place, I was appalled by the absolutely boorish and embarrassing behavior by many of the parents present. I understand that it is exciting that your kid is leaving the 8th grade, but do you really think it's appropriate to blast an air horn inside a gymnasium when your kid's name is mentioned? Yes, an air horn - the kind that looks like an aerosol can with a funnel on top of it. I think of the parents as being old enough to know better, but then I have to remind myself that many of these parents are younger than I, even though I am only knocking on the door of 38.

Even with spending much of yesterday being appalled, I will freely admit that this group of 8th graders was one of the best-behaved in recent memory. Due to reasons I will get into later, I can almost guarantee that no such experience awaits me in August. In the meantime, I shall savor my summer!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson


Texas Truth said...
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Don, American Idle said...

I graduated from high school and junior college. No airhorns. I earned a BA and a MA, but I didn't attend the ceremonies. . . too busy. You don't suppose I missed airhorns at Michigan State, do you? It's a lot like those idiots who fire off a shotgun on July 4 or New Year's eve.

Texas Truth said...

I have seen the same behavior from many student and parents here in Texas, however, NOT WITH MY CLASSES OR SCHOOL. When I hear of something like this, 5 words come to mind: "Low Class Equals No Class."