Posted by: Magistra | March 8, 2007

Bread & Roses

For the first time, I was dreading going into the classroom today. There’s a group of senior girls that are absolutely eating me alive. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but when you catch yourself chanting “show no fear” like a mantra in your head, it’s not a good day. Forcing myself to recount the kind, funny, or interesting things other students say to me and show me, and forcing myself to think about how they far outnumber the one or two or three attitudes, is only taking me so far. And I knew I was going to do at least two things that would set everyone off. First, I changed their seats. Second, I made them write.

And the crazy part is, this was the best day all week.

I had to put on an act (for my sake as much as theirs) at the beginning, but as I started talking and then they started talking, I got into it. I like holidays. I like thinking about celebrations and memorials. I like introducing people to new holidays or new information about old ones. Today is International Women’s Day. Today is also the first day of a new unit, on labor and income. As I told the students, I would have started off with the factors that affect the supply and demand of labor, but it’s a holiday and we’re going to recognize it. So instead I gave them a handout with various information about women’s income inequality, in the US and worldwide. It took them a little while to warm-up (and even as I wanted them to speak more, I had to love the students with the attitude that there’s nothing to say because we all know this sucks and is wrong), but it was a good discussion. Most provocative comment: If men worked as much as women did, we’d all be better off (in reference to UN information that women do two-thirds of the world’s work).

When we got around to writing the paragraph, it was okay. I prepped the assignment a lot better than last time (topic that is more relevant to their lives, a shorter question, group brainstorm, and a review of the 8-sentence paragraph I’m looking for). I think that paid off (won’t really know until I read those paragraphs), but another teacher (on an unrelated matter) reminded me today that whether they admit it or not, kids like seeing teachers interested in the subject matter. And I am certainly into holidays and income equality.

Random note: I can’t believe I’m still using the writing structure my sixth grade Core teacher taught me. And I really can’t believe I’m teaching it.

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