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Category Archives: Kids

I usually avoid the PUBLIC restroom at school and use the faculty restroom, but today I didn’t think I’d make it so I duck into the boys room.

There are two young men who seem startled that a teacher walked in and they were heading for the door in a hurry. I notice something on the floor near the wall they were standing by…

A pair of dice and cash…

When they saw I saw they bolted.

I’m too old to chase them so I just pocketed the cash (six bucks, lunch is paid for today) and sent an email to the principal…

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And it has nothing to do with my 49th birthday four days ago.

In my AP Stats class we are working on how to interpret graphs. The graph we’re working with shows the number of drive-in movie theaters in the U.S. by year, starting in 1988. There is a huge drop-off between 1988 and 1990. I ask the class, “What do you think might have contributed to this trend?”

Blank stares and the sounds of crickets…

“C’mon, somebody give me a possible reason. It doesn’t have to be right, lets just throw out an idea.”

Bland stares…

“One reason… just one… anybody?”

Precious child in the front, “Did they pass some kinda law?”

“No, but thanks for trying. Anybody else?”

Crickets…

Me, “Why did people go to drive-ins?”

Kid, “To make out in the back seat?”

Me, “Good answer. Why the drive-in though, why not at a regular theater?”

Kid, “If you’re in your car its private.”

Me, “Good answer. Now, what happened in 1988 to let you watch movies in private?”

Blank stares, crickets…

“C’mon, thinks about it, it isn’t that hard… Anybody? What became popular in 1988 or about then?”

At this point it has become obvious I’m not going to get the answer I’m looking for.

“That’s when the VCR became affordable and popular. People could watch movies at home.”

Blank stares, crickets…

One kid tentatively raises his hand. “What’s a VCR?”

Now I’m the one with the blank stare. “Y’all don’t know what a VCR is?”

Another kid says, “Is that the thing that’s like an 8-track for video?”

Seriously, getting old…

Being the cynical bastard that I am I was sure that my first geometry test would be typical. Sure, kids are turning in homework at a record pace, but they’re probably copying.

In the past, a little more than half the class usually fails the first geometry test. The kids aren’t sure what my tests look like, they really haven’t gotten back into the routine of school, they haven’t really been giving their best effort, the first test they haven’t mastered the vocabulary of geometry.

Tested my kids today. 58 kids took the test.

30 A’s – including 7 100’s
13 B’s

only 4 F’s

Let me sleep. Don’t wake me up. This is a good dream.

I had to ask today.

Again today, every kid turned in their homework.

This is my 12th year teaching and this has NEVER happened before.

So I asked.

“I’ve never had classes that did their homework as much as y’all. What is happening that is causing you guys to do so well?”

And every kid that answered said, “I don’t want a pink slip.”

Really. That’s all it took?

The first day of school I had “pink slips” prepared and explained to the kids how it would work. I told them that I collected homework every day. If they didn’t have their homework ready to turn in at the beginning of class they had to fill out a “pink slip.” These are simply a form on hot pink paper. There is a place for their name, the date, the assignment they missed, a checklist for why the assignment wasn’t ready and a place for them to sign. I told them that I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, they weren’t going to get in trouble for a “pink slip” I just wanted a record of why they weren’t getting their work done. I’d enter a zero in the gradebook and put the “pink slip” in their file.

In all honesty I didn’t expect this to cause them to do their homework, I just wanted something to give mommy when she comes to see about their poor grade.

It turns out, for whatever reason, the kids just don’t want a “pink slip” in their file.

I don’t know why, but so far so good.

What was the biggest problem my students had last year?

Not turning in homework.

What did I do?

I spent a lot of time this summer researching ways to improve on this aspect of teaching. I read a lot of research. I created forms for the kids to fill out. I had a plan. The little bastards weren’t getting away with it this year.

First assignment: 65 of 66 turned in.
Second assignment: 64 of 64 turned in.
Third assignment: 63 of 64 turned in.

What was the second biggest problem I had last year?

Tardies.

What did I do?

I spent a lot of time this summer researching ways to improve on this aspect of teaching. I read a lot of research. I created forms for the kids to fill out. I had a plan. The little bastards weren’t getting away with it this year.

5 days into the year, guess how many tardies I’ve had.

Zero, zilch, nada, none.

Yes, I know. I’d complain about a new rope too…

I have two sections of geometry this year, with a total of 66 kids.

I gave an assignment yesterday.

Today, 65 of the 66 kids turned in the work.

Harbinger of things to come? I can only hope…

I gave a Geometry test today. 62 students. 17 turned their test in blank. Didn’t even attempt a single problem. When I was in school my parents would have kicked my ass if I had done that. Most of these parents will somehow blame me.

The hot rumor at school is that I got a tat this past weekend.

my-tat-2

During my 2nd period Geometry class the kids wanted to see it. I showed them and they wanted to know why I put that ribbon around the pi sign. I explained that there were two reasons: First, it represents infinity, and pi is infinite and second it is a mobius strip. Of course nobody knew what a mobius strip was so I threw out the plans, got out rolls of adding machine tape and we made mobius strips. It was a blast watching the kids try to figure out how there could only be one side on the paper and how if you cut it down the middle you still only have one strip. Even the kids who don’t get involved on a daily basis were actively participating.

The best part for me was explaining why I chose this particular design. I explained that, in my mind at least, if you are going to permanently mark your body it should have meaning, not just a design that you might not care for a few years down the road. While the kids were working on their strips I heard two girls commenting on how they were re-thinking plans for getting tats on their 18th birthdays. One of my seniors who has a large band tat on his bicep told the other kids that he wishes he’d waited, that after two years he didn’t think it was as cool as it once was.

They pay me to teach math, but I live for days I can teach about life too.

I teach high school math. That is what they pay me for. At various times I also teach english, and history, and science. While I believe that my subject is the absolute most important subject on the campus, I realize that kids need help with other things so, if they ask, I do what I can. I’m pretty smart, if I do say so myself, and the kids know I can answer most of their questions, and point them in the right direction if need be.

One of the math classes I teach is Advanced Placement Statistics. These kids are the cream of the crop, the best and smartest kids in my school. This course is a college-level class and I teach it as such, and treat the kids differently than I do my other classes. I try to treat them as adults and my classroom rules are somewhat relaxed. For instance, if I see one of the students texting I may make a comment about how they need to pay attention, but I won’t take the phone. They also know if they are texting and ask me a question later about the material they missed I will, quite literally, laugh in their faces.

Today one of my best students was busy texting while I was lecturing. This is the third year I’ve had her in class so we have a pretty good relationship. I was teaching away about hypothesis testing and had just finished an example and asked if anyone had a question.

Her Highness (she was homecoming queen) raised her hand and said, “I have a question.”

With great anticipation of shaming her for being on her phone while I was lecturing I said, “Fire away.”

Her question? “How do you spell ‘inconsiderate’ and is asshole one word or two?”

I was quite taken aback. I just sat there for a moment. The rest of the class had a collective gasp. Then I asked her, “Is someone sending a text to her boyfriend?”

“Yes.”

“Why would you ask that in class?”

“Well, if I’m going to tell someone off I don’t want to make spelling mistakes. That wouldn’t look right.”

I guess she’s got a point…

Call in sick every Valentine’s Day (or the Friday before if its on a weekend).

7 1/2 hours stuck with teenagers hopped up on sugar, with hormones rampaging, and jealous fits, is not my idea of fun.