Thursday, December 24, 2015
How Teaching has Turned into 45 Minutes of Pleading
What follows is an actual scene from a sophomore English class. There are two scheduled teachers in the room and two paras. It's 55 degrees outside and the thermometer on my phone says its 84 degrees in the classroom (it feels much warmer). All the windows are open and I can actually hear the heat sizzling from the radiators. The bell rings and a very loud group comes into the room. One girl is being dragged in by her legs. Another is carried in on the back of a boy. Upon entering the room, he stumbles, sending her crashing into all the teachers belongings on his desk.
Mr. Hopkins (who looks and dresses just like Jack Black): Please! Please! Come in and find a seat! Trevor you don't belong here! Please leave! (Trevor leaves and comes in with about 15 boys who don't belong in the class)
Mr. Hopkins: (Screaming) Please go to your classes! Please go to your classes! (Trevor and his friends stay, but the students who belong there wander out into the hall.)
Ms. Mercedes (para): (Screaming in the hallway outside the door) Por favor! Por favor! Entre!
Mr. O'Rourke (me) : Mr. Hopkins, where are the deans or security?
Mr. Hopkins: This school has restorative justice and we have no deans. Just help me get them in and seated. (I do my best.)
After about 20 minutes the students are finally seated. There are currently 30 students; 28 girls and 2 boys. The Do Now is on the SmartBoard. More than half the students haven't started it and are openly using their phones.
Mr. Hopkins: Please put away your phones! Please put away your phones!
A student puts her phone over her head and using a recording app that changes the pitch of Mr. Hopkins voice plays back, "Please put away your phones! Please put away your phones!". It sounds just like SpongeBob. The rooms erupts in laughter- several students fall out of there seats. One girl is crying uncontrollably.
Mr. Hopkins: I've had all I can take! I'm calling parents tonight!
Jessica (student): Good luck getting hold of that bitch! I haven't seen her in two days.
Mr. Hopkins: We can discuss it later.
Jessica: Oh, shut up!
Ms Gertrude, the second para enters the room (30 minutes late) followed by 4 students. She sits down next to a student and helps her. The room is filled to capacity. It's very difficult to circulate (or breathe).
Mr. Hopkins: Mr. O'Rourke will be collecting the Do Now for Mr. Hayes.
Several students in unison: He's absent again? What's wrong with him, Mr. O' Rook?
Mr. O'Rourke: I have no idea.
Jessica: O'Rook, hmm? Are you a heavy drinker?
Mr. O'Rourke: I'm not, but things could change quickly.
Jessica: I like you, mister.
Mr. O'Rourke: Let's try to help Hopkins out and do some work. OK?
Jessica: OK, mister.
Things get better, then worse and the period is over. I kept a running tally with a clicker-counter I found in the hallway. 151 pleases from Mr. Hopkins.
(All names have been changed.)