"What are you talking about?"
"You make fun of us all the time. You say something really sarcastic. And the funny thing is that no one even notices. They all just sit there."
The third quarter is almost over, and a student is finally paying attention. And he's partially right. I often say something outlandish just to see if anyone will notice. They usually don't. Except for this kid, sitting in the back of the room by himself, laughing along with every stupid thing out of my mouth. Still, I can't admit to him that he's right.
"Oh, come on," I say. "What have I ever said that might qualify as making fun of students?"
"Well, like today when you said that you wouldn't want to kiss anyone. That was pretty rude."
"What? You want me to say that I want to kiss you guys? That's the best you've got?"
"No, wait, you said something yesterday. I can't remember, but you made fun of us."
"I was probably just trying to motivate you," I say. "Now, if you concentrated on your work as much as on what I do or don't say, maybe you'd pass my class."
"See? You just did it again!"
"Shouldn't you be going to your next class?" He starts towards the door. "Wait," I say, "here's something for you," and I toss him a Hershey's Kiss.
Yes, today I was giving those kinds of kisses to my seventh period class students. Just yesterday the scores came in from the juniors' second practice ACT. The scores are still way too low, but there were
In fact, I have a bulletin board dedicated to their scores. A couple of months ago, I posted the average ACT English score for each of my five classes. They ranged from a high of 18.8 to a low of 12. That was on the first practice test. On the second one, each class went up by at least 1.7 points. My first period class is now averaging 21.6 in English. But I was happiest with seventh period--they went up 3.2 points to 15.7. Like I said, it's still low, but I'm after improvement.
"What these numbers show," I said to each class, "is that improvement is possible. That if you all take it seriously, you can move those numbers up some more. Now, we've got a month left before the real test, so you're really going to have to work hard."
"You should give us some kind of reward, cookies or something," one kid in seventh period said. "A reward for improving the most." There was a chorus of agreement.
"In fact," I said, "I'm so pleased with your scores that I'd like to give each of you a kiss." I walked over to a row of boys. They all shrank back. I pulled out a bag of Hershey's Kisses. They laughed, and I walked around the room dropping a couple of Kisses on each desk.
"No offense," I said, "but I wouldn't really want to kiss any of you."
Kids were busy unwrapping the chocolates. Except for one kid in the back of the room, who took note of that comment.