Of all the places I expected to be the summer after I graduated from college, I don’t think I ever thought I’d be in Houston, Texas. I also did not think I would be teaching a summer school class of anywhere between 3-5 students, depending on who showed that day, at a school that…well, let’s not pass judgment. Schools are funny places sometimes.
And yet, here I am. Teaching United States History. For the first time since 8th grade, I take a school bus to school, along with 60-some other corps members who leave at 7 AM and get back at 5 PM or later.
My kids are smart. And they know it. But it’s summer school…and who really wants to be in summer school simply because you had too many absences?
But between the muttered responses to “Where you been? We missed you” and the fumble of papers until they pull out their unfinished homework, they learn.
Like today. An 80 minute block goes along faster than you’d expect. We were short on time as it was with testing taking place, but I decided to go through with the activity anyway. My three 11th graders became union members in the Homestead Strike. Henry Frick had just shut down the factory. They had to decide what to do next.
We played through the effects of what they could do. There was a minute left in class. I passed a summary of what had actually happened. As I started reading, the bell rang. But no one moved. I didn’t have to ask them to stay. They looked at me. They wanted to know what happened. Who knew Henry Frick could do that?