We talked about this, you know? Four classes, four discussions.
Four times I told them a student in Washington had been suspended for 40 days and invited speculation into his crime. He stabbed somebody? He hit a teacher? He sold drugs?
Four times through that video, which was pretty cruel in some places and probably didn't do enough justice to the utter lameness of the teacher in others. Four times I told the class, look, you're going to find this funny but this isn't like the other times we play videos in class. Four times I told them I wanted their thoughts on What All This Means.
- They thought it was cruel.
- They thought it was funny.
- They thought it was kinda amateurishly shot and edited. (That's my kids!)
- They tossed out similarly unflattering references to some of my co-workers, references which I quickly quelled 'cause, if they're making those references to other teachers in my class, lord knows what they're saying about me in other classes.
- One student called the suspension un-American.
- (Seriously, gotta watch out 'cause that karmic wheel whips back pretty fast.)
I tried to be all Christian Long and let them drive the discussion, but, y'know, I really wanted a piece of it.
- I referenced some of Scott's legal commentary and thought (but didn't mention to them) how cool it is that this here edublog'sphere comprises lawyer-teachers, novelist-teachers, coder-teachers, and other sorts who make this place richer and make me sound smarter than I am.
- I made a somewhat suspect analogy to a pizzeria that cleans itself only once a week, whose employees are overbearing and rude and make lousy pizza. And we compared our options as customers at such a pizza place to our options as students in such a classroom.
- I told them that their cameraphones gave them power they didn't have even a couple of years ago and that with that power came a responsibility to be fair and accurate with any record they make.
- We all agreed that cheap-shotting Ms. Mong with the "Ms. New Booty" sequence was unfair and undermined the kid's credibility.
- I shared my conviction that the teacher-student relationship invites abuse on a daily, momentary basis. They have to be there. I have a drawer full of referrals.
- Discreet student filmmaking, RateMyTeachers.com, letters to the school board, anything, I encouraged it, however small. The playing field still tilts on a 75° axis in favor of teachers, good and lame alike.
This is an exciting time to be alive, I told them, and hoped we could make the best of it together.