“Later Mom Goes Later Teacher; Gets dissed” by Pamela Francis


When I signed on to be the 4th Grade Afterschool teacher at an urban elementary school in Los Angeles, in addition to my job as the 5th Grade Teaching Partner at same school, I had visions of holding sway over a roomful of –

I stop here because I realize, slowly, that I don’t know what my vision was when I said I’d take this gig. While “visions of sugar-checks danced in her head” might readily apply, I was more talking about what my vision may have been for the classroom…
and the kids…
and the paper…
and the glue…
and the scissors…
and the scraps…
and the…

I know that I intended to bring Personal Touch Creations Studio to the afterschool program as its Enrichment Activity, and that PTC Studio was my Therapeutic Spiritual Arts & Crafts Social Hangout for People of All Ages Who Get Really Zen’d Out When They Make Stuff By Hand Preferably While Listening to Some Really Cool Music …

…but beyond that… I had to really go back and remember how I saw this thing playing out in a take-no-prisoners charter school in South Central L.A., as opposed to the super genteel, Post Graduate Law School in the Malibu Canyons where I’d successfully launched the idea earlier this year.

Certainly I didn’t expect to be drilled, grilled and none-too-thrilled by the little spitfire who pulls me to the side daily and asks me how old I am, why I let my hair go gray, and did I really think I was the right person for this job. And I don’t think I could have predicted the full-on game of tackle football that would break out after the kids were given permission to MINGLE AND TALK for five minutes before the start of homework. So what exactly had I envisioned…?

Let’s see…

A bright room with artwork and plants and inspiring captions on the walls…
Color and texture and the smells of [non-toxic] clay and paint and construction paper and gluestick…
Worktables and stools…
Supplies and materials in organized spaces and IKEA-like storage solutions…
Music being pumped in over unseen speakers from an endless playlist of classical jazz, and piano, and ambient, and meditative, and acoustic, and folkloric…

I sigh blissfully just thinking about it. But I sigh a beat too quick, because the main ingredient is still not there. The Clientele.

The below-the-poverty line,-I’ve-seen-it-all-and-then-some-and-I aint-about-to-listen-to-you-tell-me-we’re-not-going-to-the-Yard-today little sunshines known as 4th Grade, whom I already have a tremendous fondness for even as they treat me like somebody’s grandmother that they don’t have to mind.

Ah yes… the Clientele…

Can’t wait til Monday
: )

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