Friday, October 31, 2003

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (and the Cute, and the Scary, and the Odd)


The Good: The kids had a blast at our party, and it was even reasonably fun for us adults. I went as a crayon: I wore blue sweats and t-shirt (our gym uniform), then got some blue poster paper and made a cone for my head and a sandwich board "wrapper" for myself. I drew the crayon symbols on it in black marker. This was a reprise of a costume I made back in early high school, so it was easy (except finding the right color poster board). We had genies, pirates, grim reapers, princesses, ghost brides, a zombie, Minnie Mouse, and a French maid. The kids looked cute, although compared to last year the costumes were not very creative. We had a Halloween parade, gave awards for best costumes, played "trick-or-toss" (just ask if you want the rules), played music and did Freeze Dance, and set up a haunted classroom that was so scary the kids ran back into the main party room, gasping for breath and shrieking!

The other good news (at least, I think it's good): Our district superintendent wants to expand our program not just from a program to a middle school, but from a program to a middle school and high school! We must be doing something right! Truthfully, though, that's a huge can of worms... I'm confident we can do it, but I love the middle school age group... the idea of a bunch of seventeen year-olds under my responsibility scares the bejeebers outta me! I mean, high school. Adolescence. Sex. Alcohol. Regents exams. College. eek! Granted, I would most likely stay at the middle school level, since I am a generalist, not a specialist... I love the flexibility of middle school, I love the enthusiasm the kids have for science... I love being the first to introduce them to new ideas in so many different fields of science. But still, it would be a small school - at least compared to average in NYC - and I would feel responsible, to some degree, for all the kids. One exciting thing would be that some of our current students would stay for the high school... I would love to see them grow up. Smallness is another thing. I like having a tiny school, a very small staff, knowing everyone, knowing that everyone knows me. Sure, it gets hairy from time to time, spending that much time doing important work with only a few other people, but I think it's good for all of us. The more grades we add, the farther we get from that tiny, tight-knit community. I'm not sure how big is still small, and I don't want to sign up to expand without thinking more about that question.

The Bad: One girl in my homeroom came in dressed as a boy - baggy pants, headband, oversized sweatshirt. As some in the Bronx put it: All thugged out. I thought the costume was kind of funny and pretty scary, and told her that, as did another teacher. A few minutes later, our principal came in, saw the costume, and flipped out! She made the girl call home and change into another outfit. Another girl was also made to change, although I did not notice her costume. None of the other teachers that I talked to had any problem with the "boy" costume! The girl was fully clothed, was not using Halloween as an excuse to dress as she normally would (at least, I'm pretty sure that's not her normal style!), and wasn't being disruptive or disrespectful. Yet our principal basically humiliated her. That made me very grouchy for quite a while. I haven't decided yet whether to bring it up next week or not... the rest of the day went pretty well, the girl got over it (at least outwardly), the principal got over it... I know she has stricter standards than I do, so maybe it's not worth bringing up. Still, she could have just taken the girl aside and spoken to her privately rather than calling her out in front of all the other kids.

The Ugly: At the very end of the day, after the party was over, I was taking about 40 kids downstairs to their homerooms to get their coats. We had stopped, briefly, on the staircase, and a little scuffle started - one boy claimed another boy had hit him. That boy vehemently denied it, and blamed another boy. I called them all to come stand next to me, planning to speak to them once we were safely in the classroom. Two boys came to my side, but the third went on denying that he had hit anyone. I said, I'm not punishing you yet, just come over here so I can speak to you. No response but more denial. Finally, I marched back up the stairs, explained the situation to the principal, and she gave the boy a letter to his mother. He was still arguing, yelling at us, even. Over and over we tried to explain that the cause of the letter was the arguing, not the hitting, but to no avail. An hour later, I got off the train to find a message from his mother on my phone, repeating the boy's story. *sigh*


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