Sunday, July 13, 2008

Report Card

I don't know how many years it's been since I last saw "The Blackboard Jungle", but I know I haven't seen it in the past year. I don't know if it would have made a big difference if I had, but now that I am entering the last week of teaching fourth grade, I found it echoing oddly off my experiences.
If you've never seen it, this is the movie that gave us "Rock Around The Clock" and Sidney Poitier. Not that both of them didn't exist prior, but "Blackboard Jungle" pushed them both to center stage. It is probably not the least bit ironic that twelve years later, Sidney ended up playing a teacher in "To Sir With Love", but here he plays a student in Glenn Ford's inner-city high school class. He learned his lessons well.
What about me? Did I make the same kind of heart-warming difference in my students lives? I know that I have, but not this year. It is interesting that the denouement in the film takes place over Christmas break. Ford's character Mister Dadier, whom the kids all call "Daddy-O", is feeling tired and frustrated. He is ready to leave teaching rather than go back and face the hoodlums in his classroom. When some of the young toughs turn on their leader, played by Vic Morrow, he feels a renewed sense of purpose. He has broken through: "Yeah, I've been beaten up, but I'm not beaten. I'm not beaten, and I'm not quittin'."
I didn't have that breakthrough. Not this year. But I'm not beaten. And I'm not quittin'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wanted to respond as this is an issue quite close to my heart, though I'm not quite sure I know what to say. First, nice writing (as usual), it inspired an emotional pang. Second, keep fighting the good fight--cliched, I know but appropriate. And lastly, as a teacher a breakthrough moment for you is not required for a breakthrough moment for your students. Remember that you never even see most of the "breakthrough" moments that you inspire in your students throughout thier lifetime--ripple in a pond brother...

The High Plains Cowgirl
...teaching Texans that y'all isn't a word one third grader at a time