I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

AND.... I'm back to failing.

This past week was the first week of our district moving to "Mask Recommended."

Monday was the worst day, with tall, unmasked eighth grade boys yelling to other unmasked eighth grade boys, "Put your mask on! You're killing us! It's like a shooting spree in here! Hahahahaha!" 

Third period that morning, I had a seventh grade boy in my class ask me, "Mrs. Kirr? Can you come here for a minute?" I walk over... "What's going on?" he asks. And I'm prepared with a script that was suggested to educators.

By Friday, the hubbub has died down a bit, and we realized... the disrespect has risen. It's like carte blanche now. It's as if these middle schoolers feel they can do ANYthing. Want some examples? Skip this paragraph if you don't want them. After I set up my boundary of four feet in front - where I feel safe enough to take off my mask to teach a bit better (and clearer, and quieter), and let them know I'd wear my mask when I cross over the line, and asking them to wear a mask if they cross the line... one unmasked student goes and sit at my desk chair while he drinks his water during our four-minute break. He argues - a lot - when I tell him he's got to move. Day two - The gum smacking and candy eating is clear as day now, so the garbage can has been getting a lot of use, and the kids are mad at me. The next day, we're doing grammar - kids come up with simple sentences, and then we label them on a diagram. My back is turned. I hear (very clearly - no mask?), "He spits and she swallows." I turn around calmly, the kids get quiet, and I say, "I am your TEACHER. NOT your friend." No one rats out the culprit. And I'm kind of glad. That would be a touchy email home. I've got one student who either hated me before and I never knew it, or just started this week - decides to not mask, so I can see the face. I ask a question, and all I get is a look or I'm ignored completely. I tried twice one day, then didn't talk to this student the rest of the week - I focused on those that would talk with me instead. (This student has a lot of friends and is making connections with tons of people - I'll try again next week, obviously. I didn't want to keep banging my head on that wall this week.) A physical fight broke out at our school this past week. They're THIRTEEN years old.

I go on Twitter to see if I can learn anything that helps. Instead, I see book banning. I see certain trending items, head to it for a second, and see something totally unrelated - an instruction guide on how to perform oral sex?! Seriously? Ban the tech, parents. Read the books with the kids. I see that Russia is close to invading Ukraine. I see there were fights that broke out at a local high school on Monday - due to masks being optional. In that same thread, I read about kids pulling masks off other kids' faces. I do see a kind tweet from our superintendent. Then I log off.

The kids are not good. Their parents are not good. The educators and administrators are not good. I feel we are all failing right now. And I, personally, was struggling a ton LAST February. 

I'm not quitting my job any time soon. I can't, financially. I do know the latest I'm going to retire, however.


Articles I've read lately that show a sign of the times:

Why Teachers Are Dropping Out“The pandemic is exacerbating teachers’ feelings of being silenced,” Dunn says. “They feel like they have no voice in what happens in their classrooms and no say over policy implementation, even in a public health crisis.”

And... add attacks on SEL lessons:

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