Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tina and Georgina

As you know, I am in the habit of reporting on remarkable students: Tony, Evan, Bailey, Tulip, Summer, and of course my Cookie Cutter Girls: Dash, Zhanni and Lilly have all been featured in this blog at one point in time or another. These are kids who, through their sunny disposition and massive intellect have caught my attention.

Tina and Georgina are not at all like them.

These two girls are insolent, rude, disrespectful, impertinent and negligent. They alone make me dread Fridays, when once again they will prance into class – or not, depending on their mood; not participate, argue with me and generally disrupt the class.

I had these two in my class last year and was floored by their attitude. At that time, Tina was my class monitor, somewhat akin to a teacher/admin/student body liaison person. Class Monitors are to assist the teacher when needed, such as erasing the board or making sure the classroom has chalk. If there is a media center that is not working the class monitor is supposed to contact maintenance and assist the maintenance tech or the IT tech in getting it running again. If there is an announcement to be made, it is filtered to the class monitor, who delivers it to the students.

Being a class monitor is a serious duty, requiring a lot of time, energy and effort. The best students vie for this position because it looks really good on the resume. And only the best of the best are chosen. I was surprised that Tina was seen fit to be given the position.

Last year, as my class monitor, I called on her several times to assist me. One time in particular I needed a textbook, and none of the students had brought one. Understandable, because I do not teach from a book. However, in this instance a student had emailed me a question regarding a text in the book. Logically, and, as I should have, I asked Tina to go get a book. She replied, without getting up: “Why me?” “Because you are the class monitor” I spluttered, shocked at her defiance.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is Tina at her finest. Now, allow me to present Georgina.

I believe this girl is only in school because her parents want her to have a college degree. From what I can gather of her she couldn’t care less whether universities exist at all, or whether our university in particular burned to the ground with all students, faculty and administrators perishing in the blaze. She is an impudent piece of work who seldom participates in activities, only shows up to class for the attendance grade and, while in class spends the entire time on her cellphone, doing who knows what.

I recall my own student days, way back in time when we had to bring our own hammer and chisel to class, and the school provided the stone tablets. We had a teacher who got so angry at one of the boys in my class that she took his fountain pen and threw it against the back wall, where it shattered and spewed ink everywhere . His ring binder, books and book bag followed in short order. I was terrified. Especially because I sat in the back row, and all of the things flung to the back wall bounced off and hit me. I still cannot fathom what that boy was doing to make the teacher so angry, but I recall her actions now, with Tina and Georgina occupying the back seats in my class. I would like to snatch Georgina’s cellphone out of her hand, dash it against an opposite wall and grind what is left of it under the heel of my boot. Maybe that would get her attention.

By the way: I still remember the boy’s name in my class that had so angered my teacher. He was Michael Guether, a large, hulking boy with a pasty complexion and a surly disposition. If he weren’t my age I would see fit to introduce him to Georgina.

I was relieved the first half of this year at finding Victor was cursed with these two in his class. That relief was short lived as I am now cursed with them.

The first day of the semester they did not bother to show up for class. I breathed a sigh of relief: maybe they decided they were too good to come to school and just dropped out of college altogether. A girl can hope, can’t she? But then I noticed about 8 other girls didn’t show up either. My joy was short lived. The second week they paraded in about 15 minutes late with no excuse or apology, their retinue in tow. Of course, they are getting docked for their time, but they added to the aggravation because I had to get them caught up on what we were doing.

Victor has a way of dealing with such students: he ignores them. I daresay other teachers use that methodology too. I cannot adopt those same tactics. I feel if these girls are in my class it is my duty to engage them, not just give them an attendance grade and let them do what they want. If they do not participate I feel I should encourage them to leave the class, and penalize them for lack of attendance as well as no participation. Why should they get a grade for just showing up, when they don’t do anything?

This past Friday the class and I were setting up for an activity that would span 2 weeks’ sessions. The little so-and-so’s showed up late – again! Come time for them to choose the role they were going to play in the second part of the activity next week, Tina declared she didn’t want to do it that way. She wanted to participate on her own terms. Georgina held up a pack of tissues and ran for the bathroom, thereby avoiding being selected for a part in the role play activity.

I know what I should have done. I should have told Tina that we are not going to do the activity her way and she would not be exempt from doing it the way all the other students were going to do it. And then I should have cornered Georgina upon her return to class (2 minutes before the bell dismissed them) to assign her a part in the exercise.

I did not do any of that. I was too shocked at Tina’s insolence and Georgina’s sneakiness.

The sad thing is that I have some really great students in that class who actually enjoy the things I plan for them and participate wholeheartedly. Those two cast such a pall on the rest of the class that, when they do show up to class everyone else just kind of shuts down. It is not right or fair that these two should rob everyone of their joy of learning. I am just going to have to psyche myself up and be ready for them the next instance of insolence or rebellion they show.

Any suggestions?

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