Thursday, January 17 was the last day of the quarter, and I was completely spent. I was selfish and decided that I would not give any instruction. I checked out October Sky, explained to my kids that today was a study hall day. Whether that meant working on last-minute stuff for my class, or working on homework for another class was up to them. I drilled it in that this was not a chat-it-up with your friends, bounce around in your seats, do-nothing day, it was Study Hall. Of course, some child would eventually raise their hand and sheepishly confess, "But Ms. Bateman," as the child breaks into nervous shakes, "I don't have anything to work on..." and trails off.
"Hmm ... well, we could watch this movie at the same time. But is this a chance for you to finally horse around all period?"
In unison, "No Ms. Bateman!"
So I popped in October Sky, climbed over my massive pile of stuff to grade and furiously entered scores while the movie kept their attention. Then it started. "Shit! Son of a bitch! Damnit! Hell!" I froze. Once I enter the building, I pull on my teacher suit, and I'm a different person, more aware of things around me and my kids. I had seen this quality film, loved it, and would recommend it whole-heartedly. Three girls in the back of the room giggled every time Homer's dad called someone a son of a bitch ... I didn't know how to handle the situation. I pretended that I wasn't bothered, that I wasn't freaking out about how I was a bad teacher showing inappropriate material to her students. Instead of addressing the issues in my class, I sent Maggie Jensen messages. She laughed and laughed while I continued to fret. There was no way that I could show this to my little seventh graders, I have a couple that just might pass out. What to do? What to do?
Maggie went to the library for me and checked out Cars and Stand and Deliver. I was nervous about showing Cars because then it really was a complete waste of a day, there's no connection to math. Maggie tried to stretch in a connection ... no, no connection.
So for my next class, I made them all put their heads down, and I waited until they weren't nervously peeking at each other. I explained to them that we had two movie choices, however one has some swears in it. I described both movies in an enticing way, and then asked, "Now please raise your hands if you are going to be uncomfortable if we show a movie that has swears." Oh no, two girls raised their hand. What to do with them? Fortunately, the class voted for Stand and Deliver. Alright, awkwardness avoided!
I threw in Stand and Deliver, and we watched as he drove into L.A. on his way to the school, finds out just how poor the school really is, and stumbles into his disaster of a class. The students in the movie are completely uninterested, and eventually a girl with a tight black dress on stands up, tosses her hands on her hips, and shouts out, "Can we talk about sex?"
To which the teacher responds, "If we talk about sex, then I have to assign sex as homework." To which the entire class erupts in cheers and applause.
I was mortified. What have I done? I'm going to get calls from parents ... e-mails from parents ... should I tell the administration? Again, I sent Maggie messages, and she just laughed and laughed while I was in complete panic.
So for the rest of the day, I fast-forwarded through that part. My fourth period was absolutely furious that I was skipping over stuff, but I just shrugged it off. Later on in the movie, a bell rang and right along with it, our bell rang for the first lunch. "What! Wow! They rang together ... hey! You did that on purpose Ms. Bateman! That's why you fast-forwarded, you wanted the bells to be the exact same as the movie! She did that so the bells would be the same ... Cool Ms. Bateman."