Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The day is long.
The  rewards few and the goal line seemingly so far way.

Tenth period math class is not an easy thing to commit to.
Not if your taking algebra again because you haven't passed the test that allows you to graduate high school.

Fifth term of high school algebra.  Rule in this school- keep taking it until you pass the Regent exam, or get too old to go to public school.

And yet there are five of them who come every day. (or most of them anyway)

Theresa (the attendance  sheet has a difficult to pronounce foreign name, but she likes the American sounding one),  told  me she couldn't read the first day.  In my old life I would be thinking hard about what to do about that.  But here I only teach her math.

She copies the notes.  And then I see her doing the problems, ruin my routine?  Aren't I supposed to go over them and demonstrate the model first?

"Oh I see you know how to do proportions,"  I say."Did you learn that last year?"
"No, I followed your notes,"
I check.
She's three examples in and not a mistake.

Door opens, Jose breezes in.  The noise level triples, a steady stream of Spanish, English, Spanish, English, "I am not sure which language?"emerges,  but somewhere in the middle of the bilingual narrative and perpetual motion the work gets done.

Johnathan sucks down another can of grape soda. Johnathan is as wide as he is tall. I tell him he doesn't need to drink a can of sugared  soda.  Then I feel like I've offended him and tell him no one needs to drink a can of sugared soda.  I will eat all the chocolate cookies in the principal's office as soon as the period is over, but grape soda, seems like such a waste of calories.

Jonathan drinks grape soda, trades insults with Jose in two languages, and I  tell him he's not doing his work, but he swallows, holds up  his paper- its filled with work, and not a grape soda stain on it.

Martin is huddled in a corner away from the flurry of activity.  I pull a chair next to him.  I  guide him through the notes that worked so well for Theresa,  Its a much slower process but we get through.  Martin sets up the proper portion. Now all that's left is solving the on step equation. Martin has forgotten how to solve a simple equation.
We find the chart with instructions on solving one step equations.
We get through it and do it again.

The other Martin sits at the other end of the room. The paraprofessional helps him out.  I wrote about him yesterday.  He will never have to take the test, his IQ deemed to low.  But he's placed in the class and I'm not sure quite what to do with him. He does the worksheet with the paraprofessional.  I don't know what knowledge is imparted.

And then Jonathan tells us its 3 minutes to the final bell.  We pick up papers, place the folders in the shelves and get ready to go home.

Will any of the knowledge stick?  Will any of it be available on the day of the Regents? Will any of it help it them lead better lives.

Who can tell?
The bell rings.

They go home.
I go to where the chocolate is.

Another day in tenth period math.

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