Today was all set up to be a great day – a field trip with the kiddos instead of the usual classroom combat, then a three day weekend in Boston. Unfortunately, there were some complications…
The trip actually started off great. It was to a community college in the Bronx that does a special interactive theater program for middle schoolers; the title of this particular performance was “Texting 4 Life.” I was a little wary that it was going to be a morality play along the lines of Reefer Madness, and as such completely alienate and/or rile up the kids, but it was actually really well done. There were three young adult Hispanic actors that did a remarkably accurate re-enactment of what goes on in our school on a daily basis – the main plot centered around a girl that had texted (or sexted, as I guess the kids are calling it) some photos of herself to her boyfriend, then when they broke up he sent them to everyone in the school. They did an awesome job of talking and acting exactly like our students – from the code-switching between English and Spanish to the dramatic hand gestures when two girls go at each other. The kids obviously really related to the whole thing, as evidenced by their excitement at the second part – the actors re-did the show, but when a kid thought that someone hadn’t handled something the right way they yelled out, “Stop!” Then they shared what the person should have done differently, and in some cases the actors called the kid down to take the place of a character and model a better solution. I would have thought that a discussion/acting activity with all 120 seventh graders would have been a disaster, but the kids were so into the story they were remarkably well-behaved. Even when a cocky male student had to play the role of a female character, not a single kid made a rude comment. It was pretty neat.
However, the problems started when the play got an hour earlier than they told us it would, which threw off our plan to see the play, go to McDonald’s for lunch, and get back to school just in time for dismissal. No worries, though – we can just have the kids hang out in McDonald’s a little longer than we had planned. Oops, turns out the nearby McDonald’s we’d picked out on google maps is only big enough to hold about 20 people at a time, max. Still, it’s fine – there’s a park right next to it, so the kids can eat and play there. But as soon as we get all the kids settled in the park (despite Alonzo’s adamant cries of “There’s a squirrel there! I ain’t playing near no squirrel! They have RABIES!!”), the heavens opened up, leaving us with no choice but to return to the school, two hours before dismissal, with 120 kids who were hyper from texting drama and angry about the unanticipated turn of events that curtailed what they thought would be a school-free fun day. Trying to get them lined up, counted, and back on the subway in the pouring rain, as they screamed and howled about the injustice of everything that had ever happened to them, was an absolute nightmare.
I actually got off easy afterward, though, because I had been chaperoning my beloved bilingual class, and when I got them back to the school their teacher took one look at my generally frazzled state and told me to “go take a break.” The rest of the teachers who had chaperoned got stuck with their classes for the whole afternoon. I came back to the bilingual classroom a few times to see if their teacher wanted me to take over, but he sent me away each time, so I was able to spend the afternoon grading and planning, only feeling somewhat guilty as I listened to the chaos coming from the other seventh grade classrooms full of disgruntled kids and grumpy teachers.
As for the Boston trip, it is still happening, but as a result of the rain and three day weekend I am still on the bus, six hours after I boarded it and probably another hour away from South Station… le sigh.
To end on a positive note, however, thank you to a different Laura than last time for helping me with the second chemistry problem I had! I guess I should name my daughter Laura if I want her to be good at chemistry… hopefully that won’t work out as poorly as the optimistically named “Darling,” who is actually quite a bitch.