The hour always goes a certain way in second period Algebra. Itís a very simple routine, but itís one that drives me crazy, and I hope you donít mind but Iíd like to share the insanity. It all starts once my study hall is over, which is a blessing in disguise. I walk over to Mrs. Wallace's room and drop my 12lb backpack on the table. Then I cross the room and get a book from the shelf, because Wallace is the only teacher that has allowed me to have one book at home and one at school--for my back and crooked neck's sake. Then I either talk with Devon Davis or go outside and talk to Alyssa before she heads off to Algebra 2 in the classroom next to ours.
When I get back to my seat, Abby has already started correcting her work and soon I have as well. It's normally a silent process. Somewhere in this, Bobby starts to shake one or two of his legs and by that shakes my whole body because he sits directly behind me. While doing this, he chats (in what he thinks to be) a quiet voice with Cody. Now the peace is disrupted but everyone has supposedly corrected their work so Wallace starts to call out names to see who did how many problems. She starts with Holly Avolio and keeps going down the list. I'm right after Devon, so I always get prepared with my best ' you did it again look' because EVERY SINGLE MORNING when Wallace calls out 'Katie?', Katie Hronic, who sits in the back of the room with greasy skateboarder soccer boy fluffy head Alex, says her numbers before me. I immediately correct Wallace's writings, and then turn to give Hronic the stare. This morning, after Katie made the same mistake, she said, 'Just call me Kaitlynn for role call!'. I smiled, but no one saw it.
Chaos erupts as Wallace starts the lesson. Most mornings we write down definitions and draw graphs in our notebooks before she teaches us how to understand the work--of course all of her writing is done on a slightly broken and fuzzy overhead. Today, however, I was one of three people that did last night's assignment. So she screwed today's lesson over and made everyone do it during class. Then she came to me and said, "I want you to copy this page. 30 times." At first I was puzzled, why was I so special as to copy her assignment? Then I understood. She knows I'm a TA 3rd period for Mr. McCready. He's the biology teacher and most days has 3 packets that need to be copied 47 times each--double sided, stapled, and hole punched. I felt proud to have such good copying skills that the Algebra teacher envied me.
So I took the notebook and headed to the office, and shoved the book under the lid. Pressed 1, for a sample to make sure it was done right. It was, so having one already, I pressed 2-9 and stood there in the warm glow of the office. And then I saw the worksheet. It was Satan on paper. Bound and stapled and hole punched all for my torture, born to kill me. I knew I wasn't doomed because I knew the material, but I have an irrational (possibly rational) fear of worksheets. Must be something about not having enough space for the answers, or they're always some ugly shade like violet or (shudders) goldenrod.
As the copies finished I took the book and the papers and head out the door. Suddenly I was cold again, and held the hot pile of papers up to my nose. There's nothing like hot copies to warm a cold TA in the fall.
Once I was back in the classroom, Wallace took the papers and began passing them out. I sat down and waited. She quickly rounded the corner and placed one on my desk. I took out a piece of graph paper and began working at them. Five minutes passed, and she had talked to every student that hadn't done the homework, passed out the evil worksheet, and everyone was settled down. Except for Cody, Bobby, and Kramer, of course.
Kramer besides me was listening to some off the wall metal CD, I suppose, I never know what it is. But he always bobs his head and sometimes shakes his legs. He's small enough that he never shakes me. I on the other hand listen to the same song every morning. Algebra being the only class I'm allowed to listen to a CD player in, I only brought one CD to school and there's only one song I really like on that CD. So every morning as work time comes and students pull Discmans out of their backpacks, I pull out my one CD and listen to the first track on repeat. It isn't long until I'm looking at the floor, however, as Bobby is shaking his legs.
Today, I turned around and quietly asked him, "Could you stop shaking please?" He stopped. Apparently it's a hard habit to break because not ten minutes later I'm looking at his feet again and he's apologizing. But his feet aren't the whole problem. Sometimes he whacks his binder back and forth in his hand, or whaps a ruler on the desk. And of course, he's always talking with Cody.
Ah yes. Cody. Cody talks without even knowing it, as Mrs. Wallace put it. Several times a day she asks him to quiet down and be quiet and to stay quiet and in other words "shut up". She tries to be nice, but it's hard. Cody DOES talk without knowing it, because most of the time when she accuses him of disrupting the peace, he doesn't remember saying a word and he gets all disturbed because he's in trouble for no apparent reason. Sometimes I laugh about this, but there are some days I'm just crying inside.
Nearing the end of class, I look at the clock a lot. A few kids start packing up and figuring that I'm mostly done with my assignment (or not, it might just be time to go) I pack up too. Mrs. Wallace then stands with her hands on her hips and declares, "I think we should stay another minute! I've told you before! Some students might want to work till the end of class, you should be respectful of that." So I leave my backpack open and sit there. And wait. And wait. Until she says that we can go.
Finally, I am no longer chained to Satan on paper or the shaking behind me or the incessant talking to my right or the weirdness to my left. Now all I want to think about is getting out of this room. So I take the math book back to the shelf and get out. Once I'm outside, all I want to think about is buying a muffin. Sweet sweet muffins, fluffy even when squished, that become the communal muffin when I'm a TA. They comfort me as I make copies in the warm glow of the office and talk about how great last period was.