Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sometimes, I think maybe all my talking makes a difference

I have two classes as different as night and day. The morning guys and I have been together since last August and there is a mutual respect there. Not that we haven't had our rough spots. I've tossed them all up, had them CTQ'd, written "straighten up and fly right" chronos. But now, I'm quite happy with the way they behave.

I talk (and talk and talk) about their own moral compass, their own code of ethics. We talk about what it means to be a man....which is more than just xy chromosomes.
One of my hotheads is really struggling to simply act like an adult. He is very volatile and it is pretty easy to get him to go off like a rocket. However, part of what I do is attempt to walk them through being adult.

So he got a 115 (serious violation) and a young female officer came to class to deliver his paperwork. He bopped over, doing that gang swagger and I glared at him, so he stopped that. She made her little speech because he needed to sign the paperwork to show that he had received the paperwork. And if he refused, I would sign as a witness that he had been served.

So he signed (and I swear, it is like teaching 10 year olds) I said " What do you say?" "Thank you for delivering my paperwork." "And???" "I appreciate it." "Because she is just???" "She is just doing her job." "And that is how a man acts." Then as soon as she left, he ripped it up and I told him that even THAT was how a man acts. A man respects people who are just doing thier jobs" it's paper, not personal.

Then today, he got seved again and the officer was really trying to yank his chain, but he ididn;t spring at it. He was just polite and calm about it. So we talked about THAT and how when you are in custody, there are people (any staff, actually) who like to yank your chain and let you act a fool and get yourself in trouble.

One of my guys goes home in 22 days. Tomorrow we are going over his ed file and I'm writing him a list of what all he has accomplished. He's been in custody since he was 13. This is all he knows. So he is scared and isn't sure what all he has to do and in what order (see your parole officer IMMEDIATELY). He isn;t the brightest bulb, but he loves to do landscape and yard work. I think he talked more about the right way to mow a lawn so it looks barbered than he has talked to me in the last 2 years.

I was testing four guys today and they are thisclose to testing out of class (they have to get a 9.0 in all areas to test out.) However, they plan to stay in my class and work on their GED's. We have essay writing homework every night and this little bunch are getting it. They get looking at a prompt, organizing their thoughts and writing a structured essay. It may not be much to the outside world, but these guys, who have spent a lifetime being stuck on stupid. And this is what makes all of it worth it.

Now my afternoon guys? We are still struggling. And after a two week vacation, most of them are in AdSeg for fighting, so it ISN'T me. It's them. But I have to admit, I do take it personally when it all goes to crap. When it's successful, it's all them. When it's bad, it's all me.


Rod said...

Hey Chloe! You're a doozy. Love to read your blog. You amaze me with your outlook on life...you inspire me and help me in ways you don't know.


Paulie said...

Sounds like the definition of a teacher to me. . .

O darn, you went back to those crappy verification letters. sigh

Marji said...

I once spent 183 days trying to teach freshmen the difference between the subject and the verb. I was convinced I was the worst teacher On. The. Planet. because no humans could be that stupid. I guess it didn't occur to me that they just didn't care. Why wouldn't you want to speak your own language properly?

charliwrites said...

Well, I am sure it is true that all teachers go through this...no matter what the subject or the age. You are a special person to even try to understand these people. I have friends who have been in their spots and please know that YOU do make a difference to those to whom making a difference counts.

Anonymous said...


You never fail to amaze me with your outlook and ability to see past what these men have done to the inside person. I admire your dedication and attitude more than words could ever express. I hope that I do the same with my students.

Elizabeth/3/TX (from teachers.net)