I am scheduled for resource room with the self contained ninth grade. Oh the joys of special education reform (as practiced by the DOE). Short version, the self contained group is self contained (or all by themselves with the special ed teacher) for English and math. For social studies and science they become collaborative team teach students (they squeeze in with an inclusion class with two teachers). And for the rest of the day they are just “regular” (as in “regular ed”) ninth graders.
But they don't go to Spanish class.
And after several months of them
a)driving the Spanish teacher crazy,
b) driving everyone else crazy after the Spanish teacher kicked them out of Spanish class
c) following their homeroom teacher around while she tried to eat lunch and go to the bathroom,
d) all off the above
the principal got the idea that they had to go somewhere when the inclusion ninth graders go to Spanish.
So twice a week I get them.
The first couple of weeks went like this:
Me: Take out your books.
Boy: Why are you looking at me?
Me: Sit down and start writing
Girl: I'm so done.
Boy:Why are you looking at me?
Girl: I am sooooo done.
Me: What are you done with? You haven't taken anything out yet?
Girl: You got a bugger up your nose.
Boy: You got an eye problem? What are looking at?
And that was a good day.
You can read more about life in the NYC special ed classroom here.
But their main teacher ate her lunch on the other side of the wall that created two special services classrooms out of one “regular” one and she would come in from time to time to yell at them.
So we got used to each other.
Camden wanted to do his science homework. The biology teacher is the definition of rigorous, high expectations teacher. And they are afraid of her. She had given them an article about a human cloning experiment in South Korea and had given them thoughtful questions to answer about both the ethics and science of the practice.
What followed was a lot of me drawing miotic and meiotic cell division on the board. (as well as some sheep, a diagram of a grossly not drawn to scale sperm and egg uniting and a loose representation of a uterus.)
The light bulbs went on! Someone could use that information to create a “race” of evil doers with that kind of technology, Rex, the ring leader suggested. And now they were shouting over each other to condemn human cloning.
“What if I had a dying a baby?” I asked. “Would it be okay to clone an organism that would provide liver cells? How about spine cells for a paralyzed child?”
Then more shouting over each other about those morality issues.
Then me begging them to take their books out and write down some of these very cogent arguments.
The bell rang. And they were off.
The next day I attended a workshop about assistive technology. While looking at some case studies about students with physical disabilities someone raised the question about what medical technologies would become available in the next decade to address their disabilities.
I have always thought about how students with emotional and learning disabilities somehow lose the “oh how sad,” factor on the “understanding” scale. Where a child who drools, walks with crutches and speaks with a slur is considered worthy of our granting that s/he was dealt a lousy hand, those born with fewer brain cells, or mixed up wiring are just our trouble makers or in my principal's case, those who we willingly don't hold to high enough standards.
But if ever there was a group of students who might benefit from a few extra cloned or otherwise brain cells, that self-contained class would be it. They would find life so much easier with just a little bit more gray matter. But until then.....
I'm done. I'm sooooo done.
Time to remove the bugger from my nose.