Rookie Year: Day 25 Or Car Wreck

The way my day started out this morning turned out to be the theme all the way until 3:33 when school let out. I am hoping that the rest of the day does not continue the theme.

While driving to work I stopped quickly for an ambulance that was coming up the wrong side of the road in order to pass some traffic at a light. When I did that, I was rear ended by a BMW. I pulled into the nearest driveway, cursing the suspected damage to my car and cursing that I was going to be late while waiting for the state trooper because I was planning to give a test today and I really needed to get to work and get started on that.

Luckily I had not been hit hard enough to even mark the bumper. The woman who hit me was of course eager to call it no biggie and drive off and we wished each other a Happy Wednesday. But oh-my-goodness was car wreck the theme of the day.

Every Wednesday in our district the students have a late start. The first hour we have either school-wide meetings, department meetings, team-teaching meetings, or just some extra planning time. I love it. It’s a great model and extremely helpful to me. The only downside is that on days when there are school-wide meetings you have even less time than you would normally in the morning to get your classroom prepared. So I really needed to get to school and print the test.

Well, the printer was out of staples. Our printer is one of those amazing machines that will tell you exactly how to repair it, but it wasn’t so state-of-the-art like one I’ve worked before that displayed images. It only said “replace stapler cartridge in the R1 door”.

Okay.

Where the junk are the stapler cartidges?

And where the double junk is door R1?

So after some help from the secretary and another teacher I had the printer running again. But now I have to run off to schoolwide PEP. I made a mistake while fixing the printer but I didn’t find out until first bell when I tried to give the test. More on that in a second. During PEP, our principal spoke to us at the end about an issue that has been on the minds of a lot of Americans lately: the Pledge of Allegiance. He told us that while the students have to be quiet during the pledge and respect those who are participating, we cannot force them to stand up. I agree with this whole-heartedly. I always felt a little weird about forcing students to stand or recite something even if I do love MURICA. (And I really do.) And I especially would feel uncomfortable making someone stand who had a philosophical objection. After all, this is America.

But this announcement made me think: Why had I not had this issue in my class yet?

Because, knucklehead that I am, I had completely forgotten about the school announcements for 23 days. Yeah. I’m the worst. And none of my students in 3rd bell (when they run announcements) had said a SINGLE THING to me all year so far. So I needed to do that. More on THIS in a minute. For now, my printer mistake and first bell.

In first bell I found out that while replacing staples I had neglected to select “2 sided to 2 sided” and therefore none of my tests had a page 2.

Of course.

So I had to ask my neighbor FOR THE SECOND DAY IN A ROW (who was also giving a quiz, poor woman) to keep an eye on my class while I ran somewhere. Blargh.

So I printed page 2 and came back. They completed their tests and we moved on to 3/4 block. Not only did I need to run announcements for the first time, but I wanted to talk to the kids about the pledge BEFORE it happened. I didn’t quite accomplish this. The bell rang what felt like sooner than it ever had. We watched the announcements. No one at all stood for the pledge but that’s because it caught us all by surprise. It was just me standing.

So after the announcements I wanted to give my students a chance to talk about the pledge and express any thoughts they had on the most recent shooting of a black man by the police. The students talked for so long that I didn’t leave enough time for them to finish their tests. Oops. I am going to give them more time tomorrow.

I didn’t want to cut them off because some good discussion was happening student-to-student and student-to-teacher. I was embarrassed to lead this discussion. I am a white guy and my classes are people of color by a vast majority. There are only a handful, 2-3, white students in a classroom of over 20. I have never lead a discussion like this. I messaged my friend Justin Aion later and complained about how emotionally draining it is to facilitate that kind of discussion. I had two students say “We should just shoot all cops.” I tried to respond to this by saying “No, more killing and shooting is not the answer” but I was inexperienced at leading and engaging students with this stuff. (WHY didn’t I just give the test?? Haha. In seriousness, I don’t regret taking the time.) But I stopped by the office of one our school resource officers and asked him to come talk to that block tomorrow about it. We will see.

I braved this discussion again in my 6/7 block, but the reaction was not as engaging. Only 4-5 of my students talked and most of them stared at their desks. One student said “I have thoughts but I’m not going to share them in here.” I plan to ask them tomorrow if they simply did not want to talk in large group or if something about my class made them feel as though it was not safe to express their viewpoint. I had stressed at both the beginning and the end of the discussion that I will never retaliate or punish someone for having a different viewpoint from me in both non-math and math matters. (I have been trying to get them to feel safe to make math mistakes, but I know there is more that I could do in that area.)

So overall today was very emotionally exhausting and I still need to enter grades tonight and prepare for new material tomorrow. At least I have the first part of class planned. We’re finishing a test, haha.

Thanks for reading.

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