Monday, November 19, 2007
  School @ school
So tomorrow I’m wrapping up the 32 hours I’ve been required to put in at a local middle school for two of my education classes. The first 16 were a waste.. My days there seemed to coincide EVERY TIME with an independent work day, a benchmark test day, etc. I did a whole lotta nothing. Honestly, on the last day, I read a photography book.But this other class is a bit more interesting. They’re 8th graders in a low-level class, language arts. The first day I was fairly horrified, already used to the 6th grade magnet program participants. In comparison, these 8th graders were LOUD. They swore. Played music (yes, in class). Fought. And they keep singing that stupid Soldier Boy song that I hate. At any given time, about five kids are yelling for the teacher, and they never take note that she is ALREADY HELPING SOMEONE, SO GIVE HER A MINUTE ALREADY.

Considering the 6th grade teacher didn’t tolerate so much as an ass out of a seat, literally – not even RAISED UP OUT OF A SEAT – I figured she would have an aneurysm if she was ever forced to teach a class like this. And I didn’t think I would ever want to teach a class like that.

And, well, given the choice between bright students and students that are going to fight me at every turn, I’ll probably take the former, but after sitting with them for 13 hours, I could certainly see taking an assignment like the one I’ve been observing.

But still.. some of the kids just take absolutely no interest in school. Important 40-point test? One kid lays his head down and goes to sleep. How do you make them care? I would find that frustrating. What do you do? And their parents don’t care either. The teacher was telling me about the old days, when she taught a magnet class. Open house for the parents of one of her classes -- 36 kids -- and it was standing-room only. Open house for her 100+ kids from all her classes in the lower levels? She had two parents come. Two! She tries to help me understand, that some of the parents only have one car and that car is with the parent at their job… Or they’re in survival mode working 2-3 jobs, so what the kid is doing at school is the last thing on their mind. So, oh, it’s so sad.

What killed me was today, when she told me how they took them on a field trip to downtown Fort Lauderdale to the Museum of Discovery & Science (“where my kids basically grew up”). She said one little girl got off the bus and looked up and it was like she couldn’t believe her eyes – she hadn’t seen anything so pretty before. Downtown Fort Lauderdale, folks. And on another field trip, they took the beach route home… A bunch of the kids had their faces pressed to the bus window, oohing and ahhing… THEY HAD NEVER SEEN THE OCEAN. The school is, um, maybe five miles from the beach. They're 13-14! They have no idea about the Everglades. No idea about anything.

And it hit me – how can these kids hope for better things when they really don’t know they’re OUT there?

My thoughts for the day.
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I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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