Under the Big Top.

30 08 2007

I really am not sure you’ll believe me when I describe what it’s like working with this particular 7th grade. The best I can do, short of filming them and putting them on YouTube, which would be illegal anyway, is to make you imagine a cartoon in which every single character is in an insane asylum and each moves about in his or her own respective insane world, functioning occasionally in the world in which I find myself. (I guess that implies I operate in my own insane world, which is probably true, but I think because of my 7th graders’ blossoming hormones their worlds are infinitely more insane than mine.)

For example, in English class today:

I am in the middle of explaining the term “exposition” with respect to short stories. To my left is a boy with a pen up his nose. “Student,” I say, “Take the pen out of your nose.” He does so. Precisely two seconds later, the kid has the same pen up his nose again. “Student.” I say, this time more sternly. “Pen. Nose. Out.”

“Okay, Ms. Coggio.”

But then I turn my head and stifle a laugh because I can’t believe I’ve said that to a twelve year old for the second time.  One student sees me smile and then it’s all down hill. The next thing I know I am in a dream-like state where every single person I meet (each of my 7th graders) is weird for a different and very specific reason. So suddenly, not only do I have Pen-Up-The-Nose Boy, I have TWO-Pens-Up-The-Nose Boy. Two-Pen’s friend is named Fake-Crying-Girl who is goofing off with Crazy-Face Boy, enemies of Super Annoying Laughter Boy. Fake-Crying Girl gets Fake Crying Boy started, who has Hand Over Head Clapping Boy in hysterics because Crazy One-Eyed Squinty Man has made a sudden appearance in the room. I have Little Beetleguise Who Goes By The Name “Butterfly” over in the corner hopping around desks and then there are the Angels of Silence who sit patiently waiting for my reaction.

This is a real 7th grade class, Internet. I am not making this up. I was so disturbed by this sudden morphing from students into freaks that I walked out of the room and sat on a bench while they carried on with their personalities. When I returned, I stood against the wall for support and told them I wasn’t sure they were actually human and that I’d be sure to include them in my prayers tonight.

As much as I need to be serious about teaching important stuff to my kids, I think it’s just as important to be able to laugh. A lot. I think schools without laughter, teachers without laughter, and classes without laughter are a drain for everyone. It’s so important to connect school and learning to good, positive moments with teachers and students. It makes teaching so much more bearable for me and I know it makes students more eager to come to class. This first month of school was tough (can you believe it’s been a month already?) but now things are loosening up and relaxing. It’s time to sit back and laugh a little. I’m just lucky I work with kids who are so weird that they provide humor constantly.


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5 responses

30 08 2007
jeremy

This makes me want to come to class with you and take notes for some cartoon ideas. I was once an “angel of silence”. Watch out, they might go through a goth period.

30 08 2007
ginacoggio

Honestly, Jeremy, a cartoon might be the only way these students, collectively, will make sense in the world. They are hilarious together. (And I’m not sure they know what Goth is, but I do, and I’ll keep a look out for any signs, black nail polish or otherwise.)

30 08 2007
Alvy

Hey Baby C! You don’t know how angry that makes me feel… They just seem like little kindergardeners, and whenever teachers tell them that, they seem to enjoy it and do whatever they were extra-ly. They should really learn how to respect you, you’re a great teacher, who taught us how to read SHAKESPEARE! YEAH, WORLD, Y’ALL HEARD ME, SHAKESPEARE! And if these mindless students can’t appreciate all the effort you’re using with them, then you should just have a lesson about where the pens should stay (I know that it’s NOT up their noses) or anything stupid to make them realize what they’re putting you through. Our enlish class is the total opposite… Ms. Toomey has to beg for us to ask questions (Just kiddin’, she doesn’t beg… we just never say anything, we listen the whole time, no interuptions… well, except for you-know-who’s [I think] usual annoyance) These 7th graders seem to be very different from us, poor you… From now on, you gotta become very strict and all, they aren’t “dignified(?)” of your sympathy, they diserve a harsh teacher that will throw them out the balcony if they stick a pen up their noses… I know I can’t generalize, I think I have an idea of who are these people, but still, the whole class has gotta be aware that what they’re doing’s wrong… just so the rest of the year for you doesn’t become a living hell.

30 08 2007
ginacoggio

Alvaro, my dear. Thank you for your support and concern. But really, don’t you think laughing is better than throwing students off balconies? At the very least, laughing is legal.

31 08 2007
Alvy

Heh… I guess that’s true, but don’t forget, the balcony is always there if you need it!

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