Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two Student Stories

I remembered these today and laughed out loud.

"Jesse, do you know have one of those pornographic cameras?"
"Do you mean panoramic?"
"No."  But he looks a little confused.
"You do know that you're asking me if I have a camera that videotapes people having sex."
"Yeah, I mean it's so awesome that it's pornographic!"

I think it's worth noting that he was describing one of the first 24p cameras, awesome about 8 years ago but truly old school now.  Huge and not even HD.

"Jesse, can I go outside to fart?"
"No." I continue with the lesson. In front of the class.
"OK, well, I'm gonna fart."
I ignore him and move on.
"I just farted."
I crack up.  I can't help it.  Everyone thinks that I'm laughing because it smells but really I just can't keep up my adult front anymore.  I am a teenager at heart.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Letter of recommendation

I wrote this yesterday afternoon for a student that received a safety transfer from our school today.  The last time I interacted with this kid, he looked me in the face and said he would rather go home than stay in school, even though he knew that I was right to encourage him to stay.  It was an incredibly disappointing interaction.  I felt the loss of all our good work together, like I was watching him go to the dark side and everything I was doing was just doggy paddling in zero gravity: futile exhaustion.

I thought I would have some negative things to incorporate somehow in there, but when I started writing, all that came was this, and it couldn't be truer.

I wish he could read it.  In my desire to open a window on my classroom to the world, I wanted to share this here.


To whom it may concern,

            This is a general letter of recommendation on behalf of one of my all time favorite students, C.A.  I hope this letter will loudly advocate for him in whatever his future calls for and whatever he pursues.

            I met C.A. during the middle of 9th grade last year.  Our 9th graders travel as cohorts throughout the year, and C.A. was one of a few students moved mid-year to help the cohorts thrive.  I don’t know why he was moved into my class, but it was one of the most positive changes I’ve ever experienced in a classroom.  Always, changes in classroom groups are difficult transitions, leaving the group open to redefine themselves, either for the better or the worse.  Often the change is difficult enough that it’s for the worse. 

            This was not the case for C.A.  He brought enthusiasm, intellectual vigor and a candid honesty that inspired me and our class to be more courageous in our class conversations, more demanding in our expectations of each other and more diligent in our work.  C.A. was a constant contributor to our conversations and also reminded people what they were capable of with humor and generosity.  He was resilient, had a positive attitude (as frequently as one can expect from any adolescent) and worked hard.

            This year C.A. has had another teacher for math, and so I have only seen him in the hallways in passing.  We always speak to one another with great affection and enthusiasm.  We continue to have an open and honest relationship and he has told me both about his frustrations with his teachers and peers as well as his own his failings.

            Though I will miss C.A. a great deal, I hope he will find in his new school a place that challenges him and recognizes his great value.  He is ready for leadership and intellectual companionship that exceeds what most inner city high school classrooms have to offer.  C.A. is a powerful and incredible young man and deserves the best of chances in whatever school he is in.

May it be so.  May the light call him forth even in the darkness.  May he know his own worth and advocate for himself even when others do not.  I am so grateful that he was in my life, in that classroom.