Saturday, June 6, 2009

Alternative Certification = Warm Body

Maybe I am exaggerating, but by beginning an alternative certification program and moving to a "critical area" to get a job, I was just a warm body. I went to South Carolina because they would actually give you a temporary certificate if you proved you were in an alternative certification program. I thought: "OK, lets go, lets get started!"

I couldn't have been more shocked the first day of school. I read and followed Harry Wong's book, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened. First, just about every class ripped off as many of the names as they could from the desks, labels I had placed after reading Harry Wong suggestions in The First Days of School. Also, I wasn't prepared for what passed for normal with these kids.

The first class was asleep, and pretty normal. Of course, first period was the only "normal" class I had for the entire three years.

By the second block, folks began to wake up. The first thing I did in all classes was make the students sit where I wanted them to. The next thing, introductions. They seemed normal, even shy until the class clown jumped up and said, "My name's Wuzza, your Five Boy, Holla!" To the uninitiated, that means that "Wuzza" is the two-bit drug dealer on the bicycle, the kind impossible to catch, and he used the first class of the semester to advertise. I later knew all of the drug dealers at the school, everyone did, and nobody really worried about "Wuzza" (which I never called him--I always used his "government." I know some teachers called him Wuzza, but I had to stay sane.

The next class was also memorable, because I was dilligently keeping the names on the desk, moving from stickers and clear tape prepared the days before school to just masking tape with sharpie marker (and I continued to fight like that for three years). I was alarmed when a boy sat down and a girl came up to him and screamed: "Tony, get your BLACK ASS out of MY DESK." I should mention that the girl was white. I don't know about you, but where I am from, that is usually considered a "racial incident." Apparently, not so in South Carolina. Although the two students spent a minute or so hitting each other, when I finally separated them, they were both giggling! Guess what, it's normal!


  1. It looks like you've got some interesting stories to tell. I think you will like blogging. I started off thinking I would blog about education, but only ended up doing that sproadically.

  2. I like the government name and the drug ad info. Reminds me of talking to my friend in prison.