Tough- Love

I was a serious hard ass to four of my all-time favorite students yesterday. I kicked them out of the class. I wrote them up. I locked the door. As they wandered the halls and screamed, “I love you, Ms. Baker! I LOVE you Ms. Baker! I love you Ms Baker!” I turned my back and let them know that their actions and attitude were simply unacceptable.

My Queen B walked in today asking me, “Why didn’t you respond when I yelled at you that I loved you?” I simply said, “I can only love you well if you come to class.” Today, they worked their asses off. Today, they mastered some tough concepts about propaganda, racism and ignoring warning signs in your life.

At first, fighting them for their phones and sending them to ISS seems like a ridiculous battle. But I hate entitlement and disrespect. I hate that they feel they can do and say whatever and still get by with a passing grade. They expect hand-outs. I will give them none. My smartest students never do a lick of homework and have straight As. They know how to talk pretty and just get by. That won’t work in the real world, unless they expect to be on food stamps for their whole lives and live in the projects like some of their parents and their parents and their parents before that.

Generational poverty in Athens is sickening. It makes me so angry. You don’t have a right to be in my class just because you were born and you breathe. You have a right to be in my class if you come on time, show respect and are hungry to learn and better yourself.

“She has no right to be getting in my face and telling me what to do and where to put my electronic.” Hell, yes I do. I’ve gone to school for 6 years to stand in front you and tell you where to put your electronic. I went into 20,000 of school debt to get my masters so I could teach you how to crawl out of your situation.  Your phone is going in my pocket so you can work hard to learn, like I’ve worked hard to learn. I’ll give it back after were done reading and writing for the day.

“You have two choices, you can give me that phone or I will send you to ISS” I will pry it out of your hand and if you disrupt the people working in here, I will call security.

I will not lower my expectations for the poor. I change my approach in teaching and scaffold differently, but I don’t expect complancent laziness. You will have a quiz everyday in my class. You will write a page essay in my class everyday. You will listen and grapple with the tough issues.

As we read Night, some of my students complain, “I don’t want to hear this. This is racist. Why are we reading this?”

Because you have to learn to talk and write better than your haters and their doubters. You have to learn how to refute thinking and racism that is displayed in texts like Mein Kampf.

Someone has to teach them there are consequences for their actions, their words and attitude. Today, I saw it work. Phone-Rehab program is off to a GREAT start and today we read a WHOLE chapter of Night out loud, completed a journal entry and filled out a plot-worksheet by the time the bell rang.

The hard-workers could be HEARD. They asked questions. They wrote and wrote.

Get out the way, slackers. Go in the hall. Get the hell out of my classroom.

I locked the door. I love locking the door. Wander the hallways. Being in my class is a priviledge for those who get their on time ready to work.

Miracle of miracles, loving these kids means showing them some tough love. I’m doing it because they gave me permission to do so.

It’s working.

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