Perhaps it was because the first picture I saw of my new high school (a guy lying on his stomach, hands cuffed behind his back, face flat to the pavement, Tasers pointing at him through the end of officers’ uniformed arms), or maybe it was the way everyone talked about it (“It’s really not as ghetto as they say,” encouraged a student-tour guide) that gave me the impression I should know, if nothing else, how to execute a lockdown drill for my first day of school.
For the same fearful reason I re-watched Frontline’s documentary, “Dropout Nation,” the night before, psyching myself up to diffuse fights, watch girls carry their babies into class, and imagine that my students would choose to speak in native tongues instead of English, leaving me to hear but not understand them. Those things didn’t happen in the documentary per se, but I figured they were in the outtakes…and that they were feasible things which would take me out the next morning.
But as it turned out, those things didn’t happen in my class either. At least not on the first day.
What did happen was that students listened to me, joked with me, tested me, asked for my phone number, asked if I knew what xxxxxxx dirty word meant, and did their work.
And as the title of this post suggests, this group of students is ready to have a good time. It also more than suggests the work I have ahead of me. My skills as a young teacher are about to be refined in the fire. It is mid-August, and it is 93 degrees, but my year is only heating up.
This is the brief Stone Ground Story of my second, first day of high school.