I am happy to report that I really like my new class. I mean, I've met them for a total of 103 minutes, so that judgment may be premature, but I don't think so. They are very diverse - not like my other district where "diverse" meant black kids - but actually diverse. There are kids who came from Bosnia, Russia, China, Nepal, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Mexico, Central America, and a few other places I'm not sure of. There are kids who didn't say one word and a couple who came in like it was their job to be a one-man (or woman) show.
I'm impatient for Wednesday because at the moment, their sub of the last two months is still there. The principal thought it would be a good idea to have a transition time with both of us. I think she was worried that I'd be overwhelmed but I feel that I am now sufficiently experienced in difficult kids that I'm going to be just fine for two hours a day. The sub lends an interesting dynamic. She is 22, just out of college, with no experience at all. She is very helpful in some ways - she calculated the kids' grades and compiled all their information for me, which she didn't have to do. In other ways, she's... young and inexperienced. Examples:
"That kid over there is the most horrible human being I've ever met."
"That one is autistic. I don't know why he won't do his work - he's not, like, stupid. He just has a huge attitude, that's his main problem."
In addition, the kids can eat in class, wear their hats and hoods, have their cell phones on, sit with their friends, be late, and leave garbage on the floor. Please do not have any doubts that this will all change. Very quickly.
The office staff and administration is (so far) very welcoming and helpful. We can actually get our own supplies and not have to beg for them or hoard (very strange). The vice principal expressed surprise that the room didn't have a working computer and told me that she would get one set up immediately. A much better response than "You know how you get those people to donate things sometimes? Do you think they'd give us computers?"
There was one boy sitting in the back who was drumming on his desk throughout the whole period. Finally, while the other kids were working, I went over to him and asked if he was a drummer. He said yes and apologized for his table drumming. I told him that it was OK, my brother was a drummer and I know it's hard for them to turn it off. I said that I might ask him to stop sometimes, but I wasn't mad at him. He agreed very quickly and managed to abstain for the rest of the period. Power struggle averted.