Wake-up call

I’ve been staring at the computer for hours and hours this afternoon/evening. My eyes are burning. I’m sitting on a load of unfolded laundry and there’s a stack of dishes in the sink that can’t go into the dishwasher until the clean dishes are put away. Why? Well, it started in my first block class this morning. Let me explain.

My Science Fiction class is not an elective class chosen by the students in the class. Nope. There were students. They needed a language arts elective. They were assigned to Science Fiction. Instead of facing a classroom of geeks (meant in a good way), I got a class filled with people who do not read recreationally. A class that doesn’t even really know what science fiction is. “Furry things that live on the moon” is one definition I was given today. So, instead of diving into H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds like I’d planned, I first have to quickly educate them on just what, exactly, science fiction is. No easy task, especially when you don’t have a classroom set of classic genre stories to draw from. And hell, they don’t really care. The big question of the day was, “How big a book is that?” referring to the Wells novel.

Second block, Foundations of English I … no students enrolled yet. The class will be populated with 9th graders who failed English I. I’m just waiting for last semester’s failing grades to be posted and the kids pulled out of whatever they’re currently in. I’ve been told most are discipline problems.

Third block, Creative Writing. Four students showed up, out of five enrolled. One actually wants to write. Another, when told to write why he was taking a creative writing class, said he is in the class because the “counciller” is a “buthole” who doesn’t like him. He also said the class was “rily” slow. I think he meant “really.” It was a long class; I was expecting at least a dozen students, which would have led to more class discussion and reading of the interview project we did.

So, basically, I fell on my face in the two classes where the lesson plan was completely up to me to design. And in the other, where I have only loose guidelines, I didn’t have any students. Not that it was necessarily a bad day. Just a long way from what I expected. So tonight (and the next few days, I suspect) is about regrouping, again, and trying to get the kids interested in the classes they’re “stuck with.”

3 responses to “Wake-up call”

  1. Sorry to hear it wasn’t the best of days. Maybe try something a little unorthodox to get their attention early on. A couple of my honors courses in college (granted, we were all writers and all wanted to be there) tried different stories than the norm to keep the students interested. My first story to examine upon getting to college was Harlan Ellison’s “Repent Harlequin, said the Tick Tock Man”.
    Maybe have them start small and gain their trust. The year before I was in college the students had to compare Dante’s descent into hell with the Marines descent to the alien world in Aliens. A bit much for your class, but I think the idea is sound. One thing we did in one of the classes was the instructor would give us the opening line, then just say “good luck”. Maybe give them a couple of famous opening lines and let them take it. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” “The Red Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. ”
    Good luck with it, I’m sure it will all work out for you.

  2. Wow.
    I feel for ya.
    I’ve had a bunch of assignments switched up on me at the last minute over the years.
    I was given advice yesterday after being with a pretty rowdy class from a veteran teacher that might help you.
    He said to understand that the expectations you have in a class of behavior students and what the reality will be ( in terms of curriculum) will never match up. Understand this from the start and just plow through the best you can and things seem to work out.

  3. OOOH! Why didn’t I think of it before???
    I’m so sorry I didn’t fit two and two together sooner… our friend Julie, a teacher and has been in some starter classrooms co wrote a sci-fi book! It’s MADE for what you’re doing!!
    “How big a book is that?”
    Not that big. Easy to read, a great starter book!

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