HIgh Blood Pressure? 8:28 p.m. 2003-04-30

Well, our offer on the house was accepted!!!!! Excitement!!!! Nervousness!!!! Anticipated spending of money and of time to coordinate the move!!! Not to mention finishing out the school year, and, one week later, starting summer school! I can see that the summer is already gone!

Okay, enough. First, we have to get an inspector out to look at the place. Secondly, I have to get stupid annoying BallyFitness to clear my name. After being assured that I would receive a letter saying that I cancelled my membership because I moved to a place that had no Bally's and asserting that I owed them no money, all I got was a lousy form letter saying that I had cancelled my membership (on April 25!).

Annoying. I called again yesterday on my cell phone, and had another frustrating conversation (the sound was crap, and I could barely hear the customer service rep.). This gal assured me that she was sending the correct letter, but denied that it was possible to fax, e-mail, or FedEx said letter. If it arrives this week, and is not exactly what I need, I am going up to Maryland and kicking someone's ass!

So, today was AEB Day at our school. AEB stands for Academic Enrichment Block, wherein the students are let out 2 1/2 hours early, save for those lucky (or, in some cases, maligned) students who have activities scheduled to attend. Most students would rather go home. I used to have an activity (a study skills class for ESOL students who had exited the program, and were not doing well in their classes), but it didn't take. Maybe I will do better next year.

Sooooo, I used that time to catch up on my grading. I hate grading - and I have no room to complain because I only have 16 students. Part of it is that I hate to find that some of my students don't give a damn and just put any bullshit answer they can to fill the space available. They must either hope that I don't really read their papers (I do) or think that I'm stupid (I'm NOT!)

One such case is a student named.... hmmm... for anonymity's sake, let's call him "Paco." Paco is a gangsta guy whom I have known since he was in 6th grade - he didn't have much to say then, just ducked his head in a shy way. As his English got better, the "shy" ducking of his head was just a sham -almost an insult to kowtowing servitude.

I taught him briefly in 7th grade, then moved him up to Intermediate, because he was disrupting class for my High Beginners. But it was my turn for him this year - the other teacher having served her time. Paco is not the worst gansta guy I've had - my "hardcore" guy that we moved out of school last week was - but he is intentionally disruptive in class, mugging and making little comments for his buddies' benefit, and constantly arguing with me. Last Word Freak!

He is also anti-homework, which will put one on the shit-list faster than anything in my class (aside from arguing with me!). He got a total of 4 zeros last week, but today, he came in and said, "I am bery, bery proud of myself today. I did my homework."

So, I asked to see it.

My students are working on a week-long book report. I have a Book Report Bingo Card, and so far they have only done 5 questions of their choosing. This week, they are doing all 25. Book Report Blackout Bingo - my own invention.

Paco unfolded a piece of paper that he had taken out of his pocket. There were some answers there, but, where I had asked for 2-3 complete sentences, I got some one-word answers. The thing that set me off was his character diagram. It's a little man, with spaces on the arms and legs to write the physical, mental, social, and other characteristics of a chosen character. Under three of the categories, he had written "good."

What!!!!! (arteries pumping, adrenaline rising, teacher poised to leap from chair and throttle smug, smartass student)

So, I did have a little tirade, explaining that he is a student that is supposed to be exited from ESOL, but the decision was made to not move him until next year. In other words, "good" and "bery (very) good" - and even "bad" are descriptive terms reserved for immigrants just off the boat. I also commented on his lack of sentence phrasing on the question and answer section.

Silence.

Then: "But I did my homework."

"That's it!" I said tightly, grabbing my cell phone. "We're calling your mother!"

Something I should have done a while back, but, in my trauma with Manuel, the hard-core ganster, I started thinking warmly of Paco. After all, he has never verbally abused me and refused to work. I thought I would give him a break! I hope that the conversation and note I sent home to his madre help matters. We've got 3 1/2 more weeks to go!

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Tiedyefor 2003