Skip to main content

The Knives

Yes, that's right, the knives. I forgot about the knives.

I had a parent conference with a mother last year whose daughter had come in late during the year - apparently she was either expelled from her previous school or the mother had pulled her out because she thought the school was fit to expel her soon. The girl had ripped down bulletin boards, started a lot of fights, and cut off a girl's ponytails with her mother's knives.

I kind of didn't know where to start with this because this particular girl, although being very... well, what we call "ghetto," hadn't really started fights or anything in my class and in fact was really smart and we hit it off really well. I asked the mother what she had thought of the previous school and she got really upset and started complaining about how they wouldn't even let her bring her knives to a parent-teacher conference. And when she said "knives," she measured in the air with her hands about two feet apart. These were not pocketknives she was talking about.

The rest of the conversation went like this:

Me: Knives?

Mother: Yeah, my knives (same hand gesture). I was sergeant-at-arms in my bike club [note to suburbanites - she doesn't mean like Tour de France cycling on the weekend, she means a motorcycle gang] and you's required to be armed at all times when you's sergeant-at-arms.

Me: [a little shell-shocked] But I don't see your knives.

Mother: Yeah, I'm president now, so I'm not required to carry arms.

Me: [in my head: Thank you Jesus!] OK. Well, I haven't seen your daughter start fights or attack anyone or destroy any school property. She's really good at math and she likes helping out in the classroom.

Mother: Yeah, she like you. She didn't like her last teacher. She made her quit. If she don't like you, she be real bad. But she like you.

That was one of my more memorable parent conferences. But some day I'll write about the various parents who have threatened to kick my ass in different sorts of ways and the parents who have taken off their belts, handed them to me, and told me to use them on their child if their child got out of line.

On a different note: I looked around the classroom today and realized Oh my God, I'm the only adult in here! I mean, I knew that, but... I'm the only adult in here! I don't know if I can (or should) explain any more how sort of disturbing that was!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Teachers are Afraid to Go Back

  Opening schools to in-person learning is an extremely emotionally charged topic right now for parents and teachers both, and for good reason. With almost half a million Americans dead of COVID and worries about mental health crises from isolation very serious, there seem to be no good answers. In fact, one of my students recently told me that “there are no good options. There are only less worse options.” If the science says it’s safe and the district has a plan, which where I live has been approved by our very conservative Alameda County Public Health Department, then why aren’t all teachers excited about going back?  As a former classroom teacher, I want to explain this. Hint: It’s not about the science. The first thing you learn as a teacher is that you won’t make enough money. We joke about needing a rich spouse or family money but it’s not actually funny, because it’s so often true, especially for beginning teachers. The reason I am no longer in the classroom is becaus

COVID in prison

 I have been a bit MIA because I broke my ankle on Thanksgiving (hiked back out two miles on a broken ankle!) and had surgery. So I forgot to worry that I hadn't heard from Jorge, my former student and co-author in prison, in a while. Turns out that I was right to worry, as he contracted COVID although seems to have made a full recovery. I got a letter from him today that he said I could share parts of. I'd like to highlight the very last paragraph. This young man was suffering from COVID, totally cut off from all his loved ones, scared and in prison, and he remembered to ask after my family and worry if we are feeling lonely. He is a remarkable person. ------------- Sorry for the late reply, there's been so much that's been going on since I got to this prison.... As you know, before quarantining when I got to this place for two weeks, I did it at SATF for two weeks also. So in total I quarantined for a month and my tests came back negative. After the two weeks here I g