A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension. Instead, Sporleder sits the kid down and says quietly: “Wow. Are you OK? This doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on?”
He gets even more specific: “You really looked stressed. On a scale of 1-10, where are you with your anger?” The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness.
The armor-plated defenses melt like ice under a blowtorch and the words pour out: “My dad’s an alcoholic. He’s promised me things my whole life and never keeps those promises.” The waterfall of words that go deep into his home life, which is no piece of breeze, end with this sentence: “I shouldn’t have blown up at the teacher.” Whoa.
* This is a good article. While this case applies to an “alternative” school, the ideas can be applied to any school. I’ve experienced first hand the absolute sexist, racist, and economic status based nature of school discipline. A student seen as a trouble maker gets 3 days suspension for saying “fuck” while a student who is good at a skill that makes the school look good gets a day in school for threatening violence on a teacher. Nobody asks what’s wrong. Well that’s not true, my school has an AMAZING School Based Youth Services group that deals with issues you wouldn’t imagine. But sometimes teachers need to be the first step in listening to their kids. It’s okay, you can be a student’s friend to an extent. Just listen!
And in the example in the article summary. When I recently did an 11 week subbing job, on the first day I told my classes that there were certain words I didn’t want to hear in my class. Those words are sexist, racist, homophobic, and ablist in nature. If a kid wants to say fuck, shit, damn, hell, crap, asshole, go for it! If I feel it’s getting appropriate and they’re saying it just to say it and not prove their point I would stop them and say, “Okay, did you really have to throw in so many f-bombs?” and more often than not THEY APOLOGIZED! The last thing I’m worried about is punishing a kid for using language they hear all day, whether it’s in school, at home, on tv, in a video game, etc. They just need to learn when certain things are appropriate and when they are not.
In that 11 week subbing job I only wrote up a referral for one student and that was because the Vice Principal escorted him to class and requested it. So I wrote the referral, and not a damn thing happened. So why did I bother?
Last night at the graduation ceremony for the high school I work at boys were assigned blue cap and gowns and girls assigned silver. One of my absolute favorite students chose to wear the color that was not assigned to their seen gender. That makes me smile.
I know a handful of people in touring bands, so maybe someone will see this. I know it’s early but are any bands plotting to tour Europe next summer? This time next year I will be done grad school and I want to go exploring and it’d be great to do it with friends and to get all over the place. I’ll sell merch, take pictures, play a floor tom, probably clean up after you sometimes, whatever. I just want places to stay and an occasional slice of pizza. Pass this along to other people that might need a tour partner.
If you’re unfamiliar with Jason Anderson’s music you should change that right now. He’s one of the nicest, sweetest, most genuine human beings on the planet. Listening to this does no justice to seeing him live, so I recommend that too. Unfortunately I’ve missed him the last few times he’s come around because people in the scene make me uncomfortable but I need to remedy that because seeing him and getting a big hug from him always puts me in a better mood.
Download this, and listen to this, and buy this if you can: