벌레 and “One of The Bad Kids”

Good Man and I are going to start worm composting. You should’ve seen his face when I told him that.

We’re starting a bin. A coworker is starting a bin. I just talked Mark into starting a bin.

And then, when Coworker and I have figured out how it works, we’re starting bins at school, in our classrooms.

Next year is going to be a whole new year for our students. We’re asking the students to bring their own flatware to school since they use two to three plastic forks and/or spoons in a day. They use these trays that are Styrofoam to carry their food on. The food comes wrapped in plastic and/or served in plastic, stuck on a Styrofoam tray. I think the trays get reused a few times. We’re making the students get one tray. They will use their one tray (with their name on it, they can decorate it, whatever) until it finally falls apart.

We’re doing a big, year-long food and plant unit, as well.

In the middle of talking about this I decided that we should start worm composting. If we start composting (at home) soon, by the time we get to composting in the school, worms should have multiplied in both our boxes. If we can get enough worms for one box in each room (or even half the worms needed), we can save some money when we start with worm bins in the rooms. I figure if we end up with too many worms (apparently they reproduce quickly) we can get more boxes and start composting more waste.

I also figure we’ll turn it into a big science/math project. Have the students collect their waste in a composting bin for one week. What happens to the waste? Why is it starting to rot? Add it to the worm bins once a week. Heck, weigh the amount of waste they make each week and graph it. How much landfill are they saving by composting their food?

So excited about this. Hell, I might start a graph in our kitchen.

***

I have this student whom I adore. He came to our school in January. On his first day he said to me, “I’m one of the bad kids. I can’t help it. I’m a bad kid.”

I said, “Well, we don’t have bad kids at this school, so I don’t know who you’re going to be friends with.”

“I’ll be friends with the baddest kid.”

I looked at him. “If you know you’re a bad kid, why don’t you change?”

“I can’t,” he said, very seriously, “it’s just my personality.”

Well, Bad Kid went and got straight D’s and F’s through his first quarter. I was encouraging him to do better work the whole time. Then something clicked about a two months ago. He started gradually doing better on tests. I made a big deal of it. He started coming to after-school math. He started asking more and more questions in class. He started answering more and more questions. He scored a 94 on a language arts test. I made a big deal about it to his mother, to our assistant principal, to my coworkers.

He pretended that he hated it. He’d say, “Shh, Ms S, don’t say that” and duck his head. But he always had a grin on his face. He was proud of himself, as he should’ve been.

Bad Kid would hand in a test and then hover there. One day I teased him, “Are you going to stand there until I grade this?”

“No! I just—” Bad Kid is defensive a lot. “I just…want to know how I did. I think I did OK.”

And he was doing OK, and better than OK.

Bad Kid tells me I should pay him $5 every day he does his homework. I tell him he should pay me for doing my job. He responds with, “I swear to God, I’ll bring you the money tomorrow. But you gotta pay me first.”

Bad Kid has a strong, solid B+ in social studies this quarter. He’s got a C+ in math. He’s got a B in language arts. This child was getting Ds the quarter before.

Bad Kid, who scored in the 60s on a county test for language arts last quarter scored a 75% on his practice state standardized test last week. Today, he scored an 87% on his practice state test for language arts. He has been working slowly, methodically, taking his time. Thinking.

(The naysayers are thinking, “He’s cheating.” But there are six people in the room when he tests for the state test and they are spread so far apart that there’s no way they’re cheating.)

My whole class did poorly on a Civil War test two or three weeks ago (“I can’t teach!” I whined to Diana). I re-taught them the subject matter and the whole class did substantially better on this re-test today (“See, I can teach.”).

Bad Kid scored an 87% (up from 70% the first time) and was standing there as I graded his test. I pointed to his incorrect answers. “Ahh,” he said, “those were my two hardest ones. I think the answers are…” and he told me the correct answers.

I smiled and said, “You know, for one of The Bad Kids, you’re doing well in school. Shouldn’t you be getting bad grades?”

Bad Kid grinned at me, his dimples showing. He ducked his head, and held his palms up. “Look, look. Let’s forget I ever said that, OK?”

I smiled, “OK.”

We shook on it.