First Days of School fo Real

People think I’m crazy for teaching Middle School. They don’t know any better and I feel pretty fearless about it. Give me three weeks.

After almost half a year of planning and gradually working more and more with identified students, my co-teacher and I have moved into our own space away from the mainstream middle school. It’s as exciting as it is scary with all of our curriculum and research now needing to be turned into action. As you can imagine, I’m running at a high-speed wobble. I’m actually writing this while my students do their daily journal writing because I intend to keep my promise of writing more while my brother’s life gets a little crazier.

I was so ready to start teaching. It was awesome we had so much time to plan and such. but my co-teacher would agree that we needed to get into our own classroom and get going on the adventure that is middle school. Also, I don’t really like  REO Speedwagon but I couldn’t get this song out of my head

We have a giant amount of space for only ten students which is awesome. The downside is we don’t have access to the gym and many of these adolescent youths need to expend some energy so they can focus on school work. The nature of alternative education is that we do more hands on learning and have more time to individualize each student’s learning. For instance, today we will read “There will come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury with Leonard Nimoy reading it and I will introduce it by playing this song.

I literally typed the title of the story into YouTube and this song popped up. I used to love this type of music circa 2004 and my senior year of high school and I was excited to find the lyrics and see no profanity so I can use it. This is a sweet song for a story about a robot house dying after a nuclear apocalypse and Spock telling the story is also awesome.

So, we were supposed to come back from Christmas break and have two days back at the main school for our students to clean out their lockers, say bye to their friends and collect the remaining work for their classes. Vacation came at a weird time this year: the end of the semester is at the end of January, so, since we will not be the teachers of record until then, we have to finish other teachers’ work. Those two days were snow days and our principal decided we would eschew the catch up days and start in our new space. We had no internet or printer and the maintenance people had not turned the heat on. I mentioned to my co-teacher that it was like 1979 in here.

I wish I had seen this band in their heyday, although they seem like they are still touring regularly with only Billy Corgan as the original member. I saw his house once when I briefly visited  Chicago a a youth. Did you see him last weekend brother?

The group of kids this year is worlds different from last year. They like better music, several of them will have successful futures if they choose to utilize their skills and the general vibe is far more positive. We have a lot of cool stuff planned, like growing our own garden, doing yoga and looking at the history of our great state of Maine. I will even get to teach a few of them bass and hope to get some guitar players/drummers in here to round out a little school band which may or may not perform at the talent show at the end of the year. I’ve been ready to go since November and I’m flat out busy with it right now but happy.

I thought of the lyric about going to summer school because I thinking of doing that instead of landscaping this year and because I have been ready to teach since the beginning of November. We shall see.

I am lucky to have found a profession I really enjoy. Along with the band, things are going pretty well and I look forward to the rest of this year. I am sure I all keep you all informed of the progress and what songs I learn from the kids. They have already told me about this rapper named Hopsin and that is how I will end this post as our sustained silent reading period is almost over. This is Mr. J over and out.

I lied, Hopsin was not my thing. I picked this song for the kids who want to learn how to play music because its pretty simple and something we could add a lot to if we wanted. Plus, I mean jeez, this is when Jack White was really cool.

11 comments on “First Days of School fo Real

  1. arrowgift says:

    Love Pink Floyd and Love the song. I heard that chant at the end of an NPR program. They were at a soccer game. I never knew what they were saying before or why they were saying it. Now I know they chant that at Soccer Games but I still don’t know what they are chanting. Anyway, rock on. I too am in the Math teacher trenches. Pinky Lives

    • theyoungerj says:

      I think it’s a Hammerstein song called “We shall Never Walk Alone” which was a common chant at soccer games. Thanks for reading!

  2. theelderj says:

    What the hell ever happened to Wy Clef?

    It shouldn’t surprise me that the students didn’t connect with the Bradbury (there’s no conversation, after all) so it is good that you’re using music in the classroom.

    But couldn’t we had in some other education songs too? You know, that really famous Pink Floyd one…or some Sting…and some Pixies in a sick medley

    ‘We don’t need no education’
    “Don’t Stand so close to me”
    “It’s Educational!”

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