“…more than I can chew.”

Posted on September 24, 2009Filed Under Stories of Seventh Grade, Student Aides | Leave a Comment

I’ve already said something about how silent my two student assistants are. But a couple of days ago…

Interruption: I’ve had a few people contact me, very surprised and dare I say, jealous, that I have any student aide at all, let alone two, in these troubled times. Let me just say again that my hand-picked student aides are my ace in the hole, as they say. And I’m sorry you can’t have one.

Back to the story. This year I have a mixed pair of aides, boy and girl. Since they’ll probably turn up in future posts, let’s give them pseudonyms right now. How about Chris and Tracy, after the two Partridge Family members who never got any lines. Anyway, during my prep period, once they get their instructions and start working, if I don’t initiate a conversation, we could almost go the whole 54 minutes without a word being said except, “I’m done.”

This is a new thing for me. Usually I have the opposite problem. I once even had to “fire” an aide for jabbering too much; (s)he wasn’t getting anything done. Not to mention the fact that I couldn’t get anything done either. Last year, my two girls couldn’t go 30 seconds without a comment or a question or some news or whatever.  But at least they had each other, so I could still work. And they were still pretty efficient – one of them got to be very good at memorizing the key for whatever test they were checking that week. (I use the clickers for tests, but I also offer the option of recording answers on an answer sheet as well, in case “you think you’re getting juked by your clicker, or are having clicker issues or whatever.” My aides correct these and check them against what the students clicked. Nine times out of ten, the act of writing it down somehow fixes their clicker issues. The tenth time they’re off by one.)

Another Interruption: Tracy’s mom showed up at BTSN, because “she might as well; what else have I got to do for this 10 minutes?” Since my aides work during my prep period, usually there’s nobody there, but…

So we chatted. And of course I find out that once Tracy gets home from school, she’s a talking machine. Can’t shut her up. Wait. I had her as a student all of last year (my aides are always students who received an A from me the previous year), and I got maybe 100 words out of her. I was shocked when she signed up to be my aide. I think she has  topped last year’s word count already, but not by much. But those of you who have been around awhile know that this happens all the time, the split personality I mean. One version of the kid at home, one version at school.

(at BTSN) “Oh she just loves your class.”

(me) “What? I  can’t get two words out of her. She will barely look at me.”

(Mom) “Oh she just talks on and on…”

(me) “?”

Back again. A couple of days ago, both of them were done with their chores well before the end of the period. I was trying to get caught up on the Messy Rooms. Chris was reading. I don’t know how he is at home, but he was another one that I was shocked to get an application from. It’s literally like pulling teeth to get him to talk. He tugs at his hair and tilts his head and ponders long, before he speaks. And that’s after you’ve spoken directly to him.  So it was quite a surprise to hear HIM break the silence.

“I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew, picking the book for my literary analysis paper for Mrs. Pyle.”

“What book are you reading?”

Naked Lunch.”

“Well, then.”

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