Because Google completely failed me recently, I feel inclined to rant.
Here’s what happened:
1. I am a teacher. I freaking love my job. It is rewarding as hell and I don’t care that it makes me poor. I love working with young people and helping them better understand our world.
2. No amount of love for young minds changes the fact that kids can be little shits sometimes. I happen to have well over 30 students of this particular variety all in one classroom. For 80 minutes.
3. In an effort to figure out how to better manage them and keep them from doing the following…
–eating Hot Cheetos in class even though I have asked them not to eat anything in the room on about a million occasions
–talking incessantly with other students far and near even though I constantly move around, ask them repeatedly to quiet down and have moved seats over and over again
–saying the following (and this is not an exhaustive list): suck my dick, shut the hell up, fuck you, go to Hell, oh shit, rape is funny, titties (I could go on and on)
–staring at me when I have told them to write notes
–forgetting pencils, papers, laptops, chargers, pens, notebooks, folders, etc.
–getting up and walking around the room freely
…I have been searching online for strategies to help me “up” my teacher game.
4. I have taken to Google (and, frankly, a number of sites associated with professional development for educators) to try to learn what other teachers might already know about wrangling 9th graders.
5. I came up with squat. Most educational resources out there are focused on little kids. All of the suggestions do not relate to someone who has 30-40 students in a room in a major public high school, cannot punish anyone with a loss of recess time, and has students big enough to kick her ass.
So, now, here I am.
No one on the internet can tell me a goddamn thing about how to manage these hooligans. I am a 15-year veteran teacher. I have taught some of the absolute toughest kids on the planet. Criminals, even. If there were a yearbook of my former students you would find in it a convicted child molester, a murderer, several drug-dealers, a kid who was lucky to have been tried as a juvenile after he slit another kid’s throat (the victim lived, by the way), two assholes who got into a hallway fight that was so bloody, there was red sprayed up on the ceiling, and at least three strippers who may or may not take “extra” cash for “extra” services at their places of employment.
I am no stranger to tough kids. But, this is something different I haven’t seen before. This is just total disregard for other humans. They are completely apathetic. They don’t fear their parents; they don’t fear detentions, suspensions or tongue-lashings from a principal; they don’t care if they pass the class; they don’t have any interest in gaining new knowledge; and they certainly don’t care about anything I do or say. I am at a loss. They just don’t fucking care. I am flabbergasted. I have not seen a group of people care so little about anything. I have tried rewards, positive behavioral reinforcement, a variety of punishments and consequences, changing seats, giving them ownership of their own learning, empowering them to make decisions about the class, offering incentives. I have tried just about every traditional teacher trick.
They all fail me.
And, of course, this makes me feel like a complete failure myself.
As I mentioned, I am not weak. I can handle shitheads. But these kids are their own kind of craptastic. They are just vapid. They openly choose nothing over something. When I asked a student who sat empty-handed with a blank stare today if he was opting to take a “0” for his work, he said, “I forgot my backpack today.” This was the 4th day in a row he forgot a backpack. He didn’t care to borrow a pencil, ask a classmate for some paper or write in marker on the back of his fucking hand. He just figured he’d sit for 80 minutes and stare. If I gave him a “0” for today’s assignment, that was okay. I guess. Eeyore.
This is no “Dangerous Minds” shit. These kids are GOOD kids. At least that is what we call them nowadays because they don’t do drugs, they don’t get into fights and they don’t join gangs. They manage in some classes to get adequate grades. Some of their parents care a little. Most of their parents actually care a ton. Most of their parents have good jobs and they live in the nicer parts of town. Our school is known for good test scores and great teaching. But, this one class of students just seems to have so much apathy and I truly fear that there is a serious generational shift I am witnessing.
Everyone hated Gen X because we were supposedly so lazy and apathetic. This makes the graduating class of 1991 look like motherfucking rocket scientists. The kids I see each day are empty. And they do not wish to be filled.
I am certain that I can work to fix this if only I could build a personal relationship and rapport with each of them individually. You work hard and behave well for people you trust, respect and connect with. But, by the time I do that with this many kids, it will be time for them to move on and be zombies for some other unsuspecting teacher.
As parents, I don’t know what we ought to be doing, but we need to be doing SOMETHING to make our children care about anything. One kid today in my class shaded an entire notebook sheet dark gray with pencil. Meticulously. Then he “wrote” his name by erasing some of the scribble. Another young lady had to be asked to return to her seat 9 times. 9 TIMES! What was she doing all of those times? Just seeing what other kids in the room were up to. I was lecturing at the time.
Please join with me to build a better generation. I don’t know what we must do, but we must do something here. Your suggestions are more than welcome.