Tuesday, February 16, 2010

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute

My three-day weekend was really nice, but oh! how quickly the restful feeling disappeared.

I didn't sleep that well last night, and I woke up feeling sick. That keeps happening lately.

It was a typical school day, really. I finished putting together scripts for the first period drama class, casted it, and we did a read-through today. The kids are all freaked out because I decided to do something closer to a black box performance rather than a "show" show. Ruth told me flat out that she would do a show every quarter with every drama class because she didn't know what else to do with them to fill the time. I'm moving more towards a skill-building curriculum, but I can't cut the shows quite yet without all kinds of anger and "that's not what we do!"-ness. So I figured this would be a workable compromise. I cut scenes from three plays for the students to do - no set, minimal props, suggestive costumes, but still a chance to tell stories and try new things. But they've never heard of such a performance and it's not what they usually do and they're VERY. CONCERNED. I just keep plugging it with stubborn optimism. I wish they would trust me, though.

Humanities was a wrap-up of Greek Mythology. For review I had them create a family tree of the gods in small groups. I therefore had to chase groups off the computers several times, since they just wanted to Google and copy it. Over and over again I explained that the point of the project was for them to talk to each other, puzzle it out, figure out their notes, and get used to the names and relationships. Copying someone else's work would circumvent the entire point of the process. And over and over again they rolled their eyes at me, grumbled about my/it's stupidity, and looked longingly back at the computer screen.

Freshman drama was wired. I spent part of my lunch picking up the soda cans, coffee mugs, and Dum-Dum sticks that keep getting left behind in my room. So when class started and three of the kids were sucking on those suckers again (I have a no food/drinks-other-than-water rule for my room, as does the whole school), I felt just... tired. I asked them to throw the suckers away, they crunched the candy instead and ate it, then tossed the sticks at the trashcan.

I had decided to try a new unit with this class, given their comedic strengths. We went over the basic Commedia dell'Arte characters, I gave them some example lazzis, then I turned them loose to create their own short Commedia plays using those stock ideas.

They were just so very restless and immature today. While doing the introductory stuff, two girls kept making fart noises, one girl kept moving to sit in her friend's lap, and a group of boys would not stop talking.

When I pulled the groups back together to talk about lazzis and one kid pulled out a second Dum-Dum and stuck it in his mouth, I took a deep breath, made eye contact with him, mimed pulling it out and tossing it, while continuing the discussion. He crunched it again and strolled to the trash can, stating loudly that he would sue me when his teeth broke from eating it too fast.

So when, at the end of the class period, the same kid pulled out a third lollipop and started sucking on it, I was tired of talking and explaining and repeating myself. I was standing close to him, so I just reached out, plucked the sucker from his hand, and tossed it into the trash.

He freaked out. He started yelling at me - yelling about how he's going to sue me, yelling about my being "violent", yelling about how he doesn't want to talk about it. Just, yelling.

I stood by quietly, saying his name in a calm voice. I asked him to step outside the room to talk about it. He yelled some more. The bell rang, I asked him to stay. He yelled as he walked past me out the door, turning around in the hallway to yell back at me "This conversation is OVER! OVER!"

And so I called his mom's cell phone, left a message about what happened in class, looked up what his first period class is so I can catch him before school tomorrow, and went to rehearsal.

And most of the way home I thought about what happened.

And most of the time during my Relief Society errands tonight I thought about what happened.

And tonight I blog about what happened.

And I wait for tomorrow to come so I can make the next move, make things better, and get rid of this hole-punched-in-my-stomach feeling.

I'm tired today.


  1. When I was a ballet student we had a no gum rule. And if you ever had gum in class you had to stick it on your nose and go through the rest of class like that. If you ever did pretty soon you were embarrassed enough that you never tested the no gum in class rule ever again. I realize that's when I was 6, but I wish there was a creative form of punishment you could come up with for those stupid suckers. If I come up with anything brilliant I'll let you know.

  2. I know that hole-in-the-stomach feeling all too well. My heart goes out to you; that kid was clearly trying to push your buttons with his behavior, and then went nusto when you made him play by your terms, and not his. I'm really hoping that his parents and your school administration will have the good sense to side with you. Oh, and extra points for today's title--it follows your rule AND contains a hiddeous pun even though you are feeling nervous? Well played, my friend, well played. I'm in your corner.

  3. Anonymous10:04 PM

    Hey for your class you could try doing "The love of 3 oranges" we did it last year when we were studying commedia dell'arte and i didnt think i would like it, but it ended up being alot better then i thought. Hope it gets better though, but just remeber, there are always those days that everything falls apart, but there's also the other days that makes everything better. Keep your head up.