Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Letters from the Front
So they told our kids when they were freshmen that they would be in the same homeroom class all four years of high school, and that their homeroom teacher would remain with them throughout. This didn't work out exactly as planned -- with the dropout rate as high as it is and teacher attrition as high as it is, most of the time the homerooms ended up getting combined or their teachers replaced.
Last year, I inherited a sophomore homeroom of all boys. I'm not kidding. All boys. They were so mad at me from the first day simply by virtue of me not being their old teacher. I'd met their old teacher, too, and he was fun, but in the end, he left them. Moved back to Ohio. And so they were angry with me for not being him and for making them do things because he never did.
Here's the thing about homeroom: you can't give a grade for it. So, the school will tell you that you need to get a, b, and c done, and if you have a freshman homeroom they do it simply because they're freshmen. Sophomores? Not so much. No grade, no work. Or only a little work.
So I felt like beating my head up against the wall half the time last year because they fought me over Every. Little. Thing. Fill out this form? "This stuff is whack." Have a conversation? "We don't have anything to say." Use this time as a study hall? "We don't have any homework." I'm going to have one-on-one conversations with each of you for your grades today. "Do we have to?" It's a nice day. Who wants to go outside to play football? "I hate football."
This was my third period all year. Actually, only half of third period: the other half was lunch. My toughest class was the one that was supposed to be my easiest. No papers to grade, right? Only twenty minutes long? Ha. Twenty years, more like.
Anyway, as the year went by and every teacher complained of the same issues, someone finally came up with an idea for the coming year: homeroom would be renamed something else and would become a credit-bearing class with real work and grades. They would hire a few teachers just to take care of that class and the kids would be reassigned to different homerooms and existing homeroom teachers would simply be subject area teachers again with office hours in place of our homeroom class.
So. When my homeroom found out that I wasn't going to be their teacher anymore, they were livid. You'd think with the way they fought me all year, they'd be happy, right? Nope.
And just like last year, when they met their new advisory teacher, they gave her hell, too. Because get this: she wasn't me.
So she did what any other right-thinking teacher would do: she had them write letters to their old teachers, saying goodbye to the old class. The results are more than a little hilarious.
A sampling (some parts have been redacted because they're private):
"I appreciated the times that you tried your best to get me to care more about school. Even though I didn't care I appreciated it. There is nothing else that I really enjoyed except for playing football and chess. Other than that I was bored out of my life. Though I hated when you tried to make us conversate or had us fill out papers, I won't complain."
"I miss coming to sit in the corner being left alone. [Ed's note: I never let that happen. He tried to sit in the corner, but nope. Sorry, kiddo. You're going to talk.] In seminar we have to do work now and talk to each other. I can tell I'm not going to like this year very much but I have a nice fun teacher. So I think I just might enjoy it. Who knows."
"Wuts up home skillet biscut pimpin! Haha lol. Well I'm pretty sad that we are not in your advisory this year. I'm gonna miss our crazy talks that we would have about random things. Haha. I'm even gonna miss how for a white girl you knew all of our dances..."
"I appreciate the way you took your time out of the day to talk to me about my problems ... I also miss the way you organized our class, like you made our advisory different than others ...[Ed's note: this one shocked the hell out of me, because this one complained about EVERYTHING I made them do. EVERYTHING.]"
"We had a good time ... we also had a good time putting questions in the box and listening to you answer them. We really don't miss all the surveys and the practice tests. That's all."
"...Don't worry I will stop by to say hi all the time and let you know how I'm doing."
"Man it's boring in the new homeroom. I miss being in there we always had something to do. [Ed's note: Seriously?]"
"I also liked when we went to McDonalds but we ruined it [Ed's note: they got in huge trouble with me for insulting a crackhead on the street and I told them I'd never take them to McDonald's again. I didn't, either. They thought this was grossly unfair because McDonald's is only a block away and other homerooms got to go all the time.] ... You also made us learn about current events even though we didn't want to."
"I had a very good year with you. Although you use to yell at us all the time. [Ed's note: I did, too. Yelling is perhaps overstating it, but oh, the number of stern 'Get your grade up, boys' conversations far outweighed the sweetness & light.]"
And the one that made me cry:
"I know its been awhile but I'm still a good boy. Part of that was because of you ..."
Oh, P.S. : [sic] for all of this.
Anyway, just thought I'd share because I found them in my mailbox one morning, read them over my coffee, and proceeded to laugh and cry like a madman. It's a good thing nobody walked into my classroom, because they would have thought I needed a straightjacket.
They're still mine.