Thursday, September 18, 2008


Is an apology still an apology if I have to demand it, in writing, and then edit it until it meets my standards? Should I still feel better – forgiving – if their remorse is forced. When they misbehave and then are SHOCKED that I may think of calling their parents, they are suddenly sad and quiet and fully aware of all that they did wrong. I tell them that I only want to call parents when I truly doubt the students ability to control themselves and improve themselves. In those cases, I need a parent to help the student with self control and improving behavior.

So I demand letters of apology (Dear Ms. Cline I'm sorry for acting so imachoor I hope you for give me. I will never act like that agian.). Good ones – that tell me what they did, why they did it, and how they can ensure me that it will not happen again. They are illuminating, because despite the choreographed content, there is nothing careful about the design of their writing. They misspell words so simple I wouldn’t think to teach them. They leave out vital words in their entirety. Their grammar is so far from what is proper that I don’t know that the word ‘grammar’ would even apply.

I take a note from 2 kids in 702 – presumably a couple, and read the chicken-scratch to decipher what is going on in the 7th grade. It’s intense – the boy thinks that someone is trying to break up him and his girlfriend – and thinks that he will smack those girls if they come near him –“he’s for serious”. Despite the drama and the obvious intrigue, I get bored halfway through the note because of the stuggle to fill in all of the dropped pronouns, without which the note makes hardly any sense. It’s as though they are writing in secret code, so that I cannot understand – except that it’s the only code they know, and when they leave these walls no one else in the educated world will understand them either.

I’m getting high on myself from all of the time I spend pounding into their heads how vital I am to their success – how important my class is – how much I deserve their respect. Again and again I warn them of how far behind they are and how hard we have to work to catch up – emphasizing that they ARE capable of catching up (though not if you don’t SIT DOWN! And STOP TALKING! And do not hit her! And DO NOT call her names!).

My apology notes are as pathetic.

Deer Ms. Klien I am sorry for not behaving in class. I promise to behave. I don’t want you to call my house. I want to learn S.S. and pass the test. I will improve on all subjecs and in all the ways possible. Sorry.

And another…

What I did today was talking and getting up a lot and eating sunflower seed and tomorrow I will be quiet and not eat nothing in class and do all my work and listen to you all the time. And when I get in class and get my notebook out and start to do my work.

And another…

Today in social studies I made a girl blood by acsitan because I move my hand. Than, I got out from the classroom because Kiona blding. so she cline it and not get infected. but than i got in trouble by ms. kline. i will not do ever again. i'm sorry ms. klien.

And another…

The thing I did wrong is I was talking when the teacher is talking I was being disrespet full and I was making nosie and I’m going to try to be beter and I’m going to do my work and feep focus on wat I have to do. I also not going to act funny and into rupt the teacher.

And lastly….

The thing I did wrong today I think was talk over the teacher and did’nt let her teach and I’m sorry for that. Monday I mean the the whole school year. I will stop taking over you and I will let you teach 602 and I will listen better. I will sit where you tell me, I won’t try to be send to the back.

I save them all – they make me want to laugh, for the glimpse inside these otherwise mysterious heads – and to cry, for the horrible writing skills that these neglected children think are passable. I tell them that I know where they should be – I try to motivate them by letting them understand that they are behind – that outside of the walls of this school they are massively behind all of the other kids their age. It feels mean and demoralizing, but then I realize that they really don’t get it – don’t understand that they are not where they should be. They feel normal. This is normal here. And someone at some point decided that that was going to be okay.

1 comment:

  1. Makes me so sad to read those notes. But thx for writing this, L