Just the Right Balance

Posted on September 4, 2013Filed Under Stories of Seventh Grade | Leave a Comment

As I have said, I think that so far this is the politest bunch…EVER. I know there is (almost) always a honeymoon period, but this feels like more than that. Half of them still say, “Thank you Mr. Coward” as they leave the class, and most of those actually mean it. I have the cutest pair of girls in video class. EVERY TIME I come over and answer one of their questions, they smile big and say, “Okay! Thank you!” They are just so excited to get their question answered, and they immediately turn around and discuss the answer. I almost mist up every time.

They are a little sensitive this year though. The timer sends most of them either through the roof or to the floor. A few still look pretty “deer in the headlights” when I make the crabby face at them for forgetting their notebook in their lockers.

“You can take a tardy and go get it.”

A tardy (at least the first couple) means they have to spend their 10-minute morning break in my room. They pick up red pens and put them away, tidy up, etc. Sometimes, if I have no chores for them or I’m just feeling sporty, I let them go early. This year’s crew doesn’t know that yet. They hear tardy and detention and they break out in a cold sweat and say they’ll do without the notebook this time.

“That wasn’t a suggestion.”

But still, I shouldn’t jinx things.

I do have one resource kid who is having a little trouble adjusting to the boot camp that is the first six weeks of 7th grade. He’s trying… I think. But it’s still a struggle. I have been getting a lot of “Okay sir” and “I’ll try” and “I’ll make that up tonight.” I love the “Okay sir.” He’s also one of those little boys in a near man’s body, which doesn’t make junior high any easier, no matter what we junior high shorties might have dreamed to the contrary.

Resource teachers (I think that’s what they’re still called) and I have always had an uneasy relationship. I know how hard they work and how dedicated they are (and oh, the paperwork), and they know that I think most “accommodations” actually do more harm than good. Relations have warmed in recent years; maybe I am mellowing. (haha) Nowadays they even talk to me, and a couple even ask for advice and share stories. One of our resource teachers was actually my BTSA advisee as she was getting her credential, so she sorta has to talk to me.

We were patrolling the quads before school the other day–I speaking loudly and carrying a big stick, and she speaking much too softly for a junior high quad–when she sidled (love that word) up to me and wanted to share something my struggling student had said to her. She is his resource teacher this year. She knows how my class has a routine and she has learned it well. She knows how to do the old…

“I KNOW Mr. Coward has vocabulary due every Wednesday, where’s yours? Do you need some help printing a new sheet from his website? I KNOW Mr. Coward won’t accept it unless…”

That’s what I call collaboration: putting the squeeze on the kids.

She wanted to share something “Arnie” had said while she was helping him with his English assignment. She said she was quizzing him about all his teachers and what he thought of them so far. She got a lot of okays and all rights. I’ll let her finish the story:

“Then I asked him about Mr. Coward, and he sat up in his chair. I said, ‘Mr. Coward’s ¬†class can be kinda hard, huh?’ He nodded and said yeah. Then I said, “He can be kinda scary sometimes, huh?’ He agreed. And then he got a big grin on his face and said, ‘But he’s soooo funny!'”

 

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