assigned seat
Friday, March 26, 2004
i feel like i'm gonna be sick.
yes i know i've not been regularly posting, but i knew i'd regret posting about an incident today.

during second block i had a somewhat small class (i like to think "concentrated"). about halfway through, there was a fire drill. (i assume it was a drill.) a couple student gave seemingly halfhearted attempt at leaving campus. upon the eventual return to the classroom, i attempted to return to the lesson. one student kept asking to go to the bathroom. i eventually relented and said i'd give him a pass when i finished covering the material.

it was not going well at all. the "concentrated" class was not concentrating on math. instead they kept talking about getting high and drunk the previous night while playing spades. (i was rather surprised by the choice of card game. i'm trying to think of ways to use the interest in the classroom. probability is obvious, but not a high priority right now. any ideas for an algebra 1a tie in are appreciated.) i eventually did the poor teacher bailout, and just gave everyone a worksheet. i let the student go to the bathroom at this point.

several minutes later another student started complaining. he complained of being sick. i had noticed him putting his face down on the desk behind him (i didn't see how that could be comfortable.) he didn't seem quite his normal self (more angry less mischief.) despite the other student not having returned, when he started to spit into the garbage, i decided i'd write him a pass to the bathroom.

soon another male student started wretching and complaining. he was coughing/spitting up something into the trash. (the sounds were quite disgusting.) there was one student who found the whole insanity quite funny. as the student was puking in the trashcan, i watched her lie on the floor shaking with laughter. since the students he would be showing off for were already gone, it really didn't seem like he was trying to fake it. he actually didn't even ask for a pass. he just was filling up the trash can. after he stopped for a bit, he started to bring me the trash can. i told him to tie up the liner please. he then asked to go get something to wipe his mouth. i directed him to a different bathroom than the other two gentlemen. he looked extremely pale. he took the trashbag with him. at this point i'm wondering what they might have ingested - possibly during the fire drill.

when he left, the other student started laughing out loud. (she'd been trying not to laugh out loud while he was puking.) at this point, a student not in the class was in the hall and told me that the second student who'd left was really sick in the bathroom. the counselor happened to be in the hallway, and i asked her to watch the class while i checked on him. i walked in and the first two students were there. the sick one was standing on a toilet rim - spitting into it. he continued to spit up stuff after i'd sent the first student back to class. i asked him if he'd taken anything; he denied this. there isn't much time left in the period, but we get back to class and they're complaining about everything from anthrax to pollen to me poisoning them. i admit i wasn't feeling great at this point either.

when the bell rang, i asked a teacher to watch my next class for a couple of minutes as i informed the administration of the incident. (i felt someone needed the info in case one of them got really sick.) i checked back after the end of the day. apparently the principal required them to take drug tests and the results are due back today and tomorrow. she also had conferences with at least two of the students and a parent. one of the parents found the incident problematic. i guess we'll see if he responds to her instruction.

i just found the whole incident ironic considering yesterday i'd had a conversation with my brother/mother about the time in fourth grade when a student had projectile vomit as she tried to run to the bathroom. she'd soaked my bookbag (and my favorite grey nike sweatshirt that my uncle had given me). guess how the school dealt with this...they'd just put my backback in a clear bag and tied it. since it was like 90 degrees and i had a long busride, the bag started filling up with gases. the smell was horrible.

i remember distinctly saying "at least no one has thrown up in my classroom."
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
sick and fired?
i'm posting while proctoring a makeup writing test. this is such a waste of time. there are two students who didn't take the original test. only one is here. two full time staff are spending 90 mins sitting here for one student. not only that, the counselor had given another group this kid's test and we had to wait while she went back and switched them.

i intended to post about a few recent occurrences. on monday, i arrived (my customary 5-10 mins late) and went to sign in. (i assumed this was normal; if your school does something else leave a comment.) over the sign in sheet was a paper announcing we have a meeting that afternoon @ 3. this intrigued me since i cannot remember a meeting on a monday afternoon. our teachers' meetings always are on wednesday. i was relieved it wasn't like the sheet last monday "see me immediately." nothing like making it obvious to your boss that you were late.

it was a standard monday. i am still sick (more about that later). around 2:53 i decide to head to the "media center." usually i roll up to teachers' meetings a minute or two and end up waiting at least another 5 for everyone to arrive. as i enter the library, i know something is definitely different. i'm early, yet the room is packed. the most surprising thing is i see people i don't recognize. (i still don't know who they were.)

i sit in the very back on a couch and hide behind a larger woman. (most of our female staff members are "larger women" but i digress.) i look around and make some wisecrack about this is the meeting where we're all going to be fired. the principal starts to recap the story of the incident which resulted in the death of the student from her point of view and from the information provided to her by a policeman who's updated her frequently.

i won't go into all the details, but basically a group of about 6 15 year olds were driving in a borrowed car. i didn't know that many of the 6 were students of mine (one is a top student). they yelled out at another group who was outside. they then circled around and returned to the area - each time doing something a little more antagonizing. this led to the other group breaking up concrete into chunks which then were hurled at the car when the group made another pass. one chunk hit the driver in the temple and was the cause of his death. the family does not have money for the hospital bills or the funeral. the family also asked the school to send some names of his friends who would serve as pallbearers or flower something. i thought that was odd.

while we're to call these associated youths "groups" and not "gangs," there is a serious concern about retribution. as the principal says it, the "word on the street" is that the one group will "rise up" after the funeral. the police and others are trying to calm them and convince everyone that it is just a tragic accident. we then spent another hour going through our security procedures. apparently we're to already to have known them. i'm not sure how since at least the new folks have never been given the information. i have asked for the information a few times this year. i wish this was not the reason i received it. so we weren't about to be fired, just preparing to be fired upon.

the funeral is thursday.

it is now 9:07. the administrator just took up the student's test since he said he was done. the test is over at 9:55. why would you take it up? i told her that she is not allowed to do that. she responded with example after example of times she had seen it done. i just reiterated that the option is not there. standardized tests do not allow for this. administration must be uniform. despite this, she still took up the test. so now i'm typing, she's reading a magazine, and he's sitting at an empty desk chewing his fingernails. why are we still here??? if she feels like screwing up the administration, shouldn't we at least leave and have some benefit. why keep the kid out of class if you've taken up his test?

i've been sick since the sunday before last. i woke up and my throat hurt. it's hurt since them. the quantity and color of mucus in my chest is disgusting. i actually made an attempt at being grown up. i tried to find out where i could actually use this vaunted "insurance." i nearly even called to make an appointment, but that'd just be crazy. i lost my voice last thursday and friday. it did lead to one of the funniest things that's happened so far this year. my voice would come and go. at some point i just gave up trying and started whispering. i had to let some things go since i couldn't yell at a student down the hall, or being loud, or otherwise couldn't hear me; but it was largely sufficient for giving classroom instruction. while it didn't happen immediately upon starting to whisper, i soon noticed something strange. as i would whisper to the students - usually about the classwork - they started whispering back to me. the first time it happened, i was rather surprised and searched the student's face for a sign of mockery. there was none. he was sincerely trying to do the classwork and just asked a question. i don't think he even realized he was whispering. it took considerable effort not to start laughing right then. the classroom was quite quiet. soon, all the students were whispering back to me. this continued in other classes and on both days.

i was seriously considering "losing" my voice for the rest of the year.

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