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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Epic shade

The year is winding down and the pressure is ramping up.

Finals are just weeks away.

There are no more extensions to give, no extra time.

The calendar has a finite late date.

And some kids still just don't get it.

I get cranky about that.

Right now, my students are reading in literature circles.

My fifth hour is doing ok.

Not great, all of them, but ok.

Except one group.

That group is still messing around page 20 or something.

Plus, they are massively chatty.

Which I also get cranky about.

The last couple of days have been better.

I think I know why.

Without quite meaning to, I threw some epic shade.
This happened early in the week.

I was speaking with another reading group.

The whole class had already been reminded repeatedly to be busy.

Finally, I kind of popped off.

"I guess I can tell from the choices certain people are making who really wants to take my class again next year."

One of the young man in that group paused, looked at me, and spoke to his group.

He didn't think I heard him.

He was wrong.

"She low-key tryin' throw some shade."

I turned and responded with a big smile, "There is nothing low-key about that shade."

The entire class erupted in "Awwwwwws" and "Dang!" and "She got you!"

It is completely possible not one kid thought I knew what shade was.

Even more likely that they didn't think I could throw any.

And for sure, they didn't think I would.

I made a funny.

Something actually well-timed and worth laughing at.

This is not my strong suit.

My funny bone has always been, not quite broken, more just crooked.

It might not have been the nicest thing I've ever said.

At least when he asked me "What's up?" I didn't respond, "Not ya grade," as I am sorely tempted to do.

And, on the other hand, nice was NOT working.

Plus, proving I'm not that old: priceless.

Anyway, I shushed them and we all got back to work.

A minute later, I sat down with the group in question.

We had that real honest conversation about grades and passing and doing the work.


The conversation was good.


It isn't that they don't comprehend the situation.

It's that they have no experience of grade-related consequences.

They've been told their whole lives grades matter.

They've also lived the reality that grades don't change anything.

(Just in case I'm being too subtle, I'm dissing social promotion and age-grading about which, I can throw shade for hours)

There was a difference this time, though.

It was that little extra shade.

For the first time, I think they actually heard me.

Because we have a strong classroom community, and I have strong relationships with all of them, I can get away with a pointed joke.

That joking around feels to me like a little well-placed humiliation.

Nothing harmful or mean-spirited, but enough to get their attention.

Like, really the whole brain gets it for a second, attention.

I would NEVER say something like that early in the year.

At this point, though, I'd rather hurt a feeling to force the issue than let a kid fail.

The past couple of days have been better.

Work, reading mostly, is finally getting done.

That is an incredibly good thing.

My literal little freshpeople are finally wrapping their brains around precious commodities like sarcasm and wordplay.

That is also a good thing.

Me being funny, well, that's more miracle than good thing, but I'll take it.

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