Monday, June 27, 2005

Juxtaposition

As you've no doubt figured, I had a bit of a rough year at school. Today, the last full day (I have a half-day with the runts tomorrow), was no different from any other day. By that I mean things started off fairly OK and soon degenerated into degenerates screaming at each other over petty offenses. In other words, I got the shit annoyed out of me, as per usual. S. and R. were particularly in fine form today, and someone drew a butt with a penis in it on the chalk board. Real fine specimens, you see.

Don't get me wrong, I've got some kickass kids. E. blew away all the tests and is fun, to boot. N. is an amazing artist, even when she is a pain. There are funny ones, clever ones, and moral ones. It's just that the pains are so much louder, in every sense of the word.

So today, while I was trying to calm S. and R. down while trying to get I. and K. to sit the hell down and A. to clean up his goddam mess, Ms. Muscato came by. She tought class 102 this year. The "02" classes are reserved for gifted and talented students. Our school doesn't completely split up the classes, but a lot of the top academic kids are put in one place for excellence. Otherwise, everyone is mixed heterogenously, which, I think (and research shows) is the best way to do it. Anyway, next year I'm supposedly going to teach 202, so, basically, Ms. Muscato's class.

She brought me a pile of letters they had written me, as a way of introducing themselves. They wrote better than some of my third-going-to-fourth graders, and some read on higher reading levels. But the juxtaposition of these great letters while my current students basically wandered around like genetic detritus was a rather potent one. Here's to next year.

9 Comments:

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Beau said...

So if it's better for the kids to have them mixed, what's the rationale for the school not doing so?

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger Joe Rice said...

Well, they DO mix them. Kind of. They take out 25 of the top-tier academics and put them in their own class, but there are other kids just as bright in the other classes. But the real high-scorers tend to be the kids whose parents are most involved and concerned (duh). And if our school was to totally do away with the "top class" then we'd be in for some serious shit from the only parents that actually help us out.

 
At 1:52 AM, Anonymous Beau said...

So, in other words, it's essentially parental blackmail -- "do what's best for my kid, not all the kids, or we walk?"

Perfectly understandable on both ends, I guess.

 
At 5:31 AM, Blogger Joe Rice said...

Yeah. And, too, despite all the research or evidence, it's sometimes hard to believe that leaving these really smart kids in with some of the others we've got, the real problems (who I often love even more, but let's be serious, they take up most of my time) is doing anything good.

 
At 11:19 AM, Anonymous red_ricky said...

"Yeah. And, too, despite all the research or evidence, it's sometimes hard to believe that leaving these really smart kids in with some of the others we've got, is doing anything good."

Back in high-school, all my advance placement classes were based on learning ability as oppossed to grades or smarts. Meaning that those kids who could grasp concepts quickly and cover more material were placed in the '02 class, regardless of GPA.

Those who needed a normal pace in order to learn stuff were placed in the '01 class. The end result was that grades followed a normal bell shaped curve on both groups.

That is... C students who could absorb difficult concepts, still got expossed to a wide range of material; while A students who moved at their own pace and needed to take their extra time to internalize stuff, still got to be "A students" without being overwhelmed (or frustrated by) school work.

If I remember correctly, they also did a good job of matching "teaching styles" with "learning abilities" and student personalities so that introverted kids didn't get the "Boot Camp" type instructor.

Some kids still managed to fall through the cracks, but they would usually implode during the first couple of weeks of school (the constant waterworks were a dead giveaway).

 
At 6:41 PM, Blogger Joe Rice said...

That's an amazing balance. I wish our school could manage that. As it is, it's pretty much impossible. With the largeness of NYC public schools, such tailor-designedness doesn't quite work out.

On the other hand, I'm done and drunk!

 
At 9:03 AM, Anonymous red_ricky said...

I wish our school could manage that.

My school did it, at first, with placement tests, then by asking the teachers if they had a student they recommend or could benefit from being in the '02 group.

The inverse was achieved by guys like me screaming at the top of their lungs "Get me off this Fucking Course!!! Screw England, Screw Victorian Literature, Get me the Fuck Out of here! This CLASS SUXS!!!"

Then again... CHEERS!

 
At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Beau said...

I suppose that clears up whether or not this is the Puerto Rican red ricky. Or maybe not.

 
At 8:33 PM, Blogger Joe Rice said...

What other red Ricky is there?

 

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