Fighting Back

This past week has gone fairly well. Late December is known to be a time when students are “off the hook”, and that has rang true, but I’ve been dropping the hammer in response, and generally speaking, things have been manageable. I hope it’s not just a temporary phase or transient holiday joy, but things do seem to improving on the whole. Another big part is probably that I’ve really been putting a lot of effort into turning my outlook around. Oh yeah–and Hopkins is done for the semester!

We had our bi-weekly 9th Grade All-Men Meeting on Friday, which seemed to go reasonably well. We’re trying hard to start forming these 9th grade males into disciplined men, and I can see it coming along bit by bit. Right now, we don’t really have a set plan going into these meeting, which is something that’s going to have to change for them to be successful. But for my part, I’m trying to establish a culture of manhood, based not upon machismo, or even traditional masculinity, but on self-control. I’ve been doing this by framing disruptive and disrespectful behaviors I want to eliminate as boyish, and productive behaviors I want to foster as manly. This has been pretty effective for about 90% of my 9th graders, particularly the ones who aren’t deeply involved in the street culture. You can see it every day; these kids are still planning out their developmental route.

For the other 10%, they’ve already decided what “being a man” looks like, and it typically involves bucking authority. We’re going to need something more comprehensive to reach them. In the meantime, continuing these meetings is going to be key to making sure that their twisted idea of manhood isn’t the only perspective out there for those 90% who are still up for grabs.

On a lighter note, I taught what was probably my best lesson yet on Thursday and Friday. The big difference is I cut the lecture to a minimum, and got started with real-world application right off the bat. I had a rude awakening last week when I looked at the Benchmark assessment my students would be taking. I realized that the majority of the questions were word problems, and that the HSA was going to be quite similar. Unfortunately, I’ve put very little emphasis on word problems all year, and I feel like that has really set my students back. I thought that incorporating word problems in the lesson might make learning the skills more complicated, and maybe it has, but at the same time it makes the math a bit more engaging.

Just two more days until some much-needed rest and relaxation!

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