[originally posted March 26, 2008)
Carl is an emotionally disturbed, high functioning 8th grader who is extremely intelligent, loves science, and loves to read. Unfortunately, he hates writing, which is how he ended up in my room for Language Arts. I should take that back; it's being told what to do when he'd rather do other things that truly bothers him. He is a perfectly capable writer with wonderful wit and adequate skill when he feels like displaying it, which is rare. It's just me and Carl paired up daily for great fun and adventures in writing 2nd period. Carl later returns to my room 8th period for a scheduled "free" period.
Today, Corey, was in my room 8th hour. Remember Corey? (He's the one with the sense of humor.) I instructed Corey to continue working independently on a paragraph for his "New Kid Brochure," an advice pamphlet for kids new to our school. Then I turned my attention to Carl, who had spent 2nd hour today laying on the couch in my room, "trying to think of what to write about." So, rather than free time, I told him that he owed me a class period. He grudgingly sat down.
[Here's a tip. Use a kind, insanely-patient tone when reading my lines and a snarly, sarcastic, disrespectful tone when speaking for Carl. Corey's voice is just normal.]
Me: Okay, Carl, it's time to get to writing that descriptive paragraph we talked about.
Carl: Yes, but I told you I want you to give me the beginning sentence.[which he does not need]
[Here, Corey interrupts to ask me what to write about. I offer a few suggestions and return to Carl.]
Me: Well, one good way to start a paragraph is with some details in a description that kind of leads the reader to your subject.
Carl: What are you talking about?!
Me [ignoring the snide tone]: You know; like, "Balls bouncing, sneakers squeaking, Mr. Shomro blowing his whistle...These are some things you hear in gym class."
Carl: That's the dumbest thing I ever heard. I'm not doing that. Just give me a sentence.
Me: Actually, that introduction was written by a student a couple of years ago who hated writing even moreso than you, believe it or not. Let me show you the finished product; it was actually very good.
[I show it to Carl, who reads it entirely and then drops it on the floor.]
Carl: I'm not doing that. Give me a better idea.
Me: Well, some people like to start an intro with a quote. What is your subject?
Carl: I don't need your help with the subject!! I told you, I need help with the beginning! Are you deaf? Just give me the beginning! Quotes are stupid. I don't know any quotes!
Me: If you want my help, you are going to have to drop the attitude and the tone, because I am tiring of it.
Carl: Too bad. You get paid to help me, so help me!
Me: [Walking away] I am not going to help you now. Let me know when you are ready to treat me with respect, and I will help you.
Carl: You have to help me! It's your job!
Corey: Dude, why don't you just calm down?
Carl to Corey [yelling]: Why don't you SHUT UP?!
Me: Corey, thanks, but please don't try any more to help.
Corey (King of Sarcasm): Pardon me for living!
[More ignoring as Carl complains to the ceiling about how I never help him and how is he supposed to write when people are so AAHHHHH. Corey rolls his eyes in response to the drama.]
CARL: Fine! I'm writing about the library. [Translation: Now get over here and write this!]
ME: Great idea! You love the library. Think about how you feel about books and reading; that would be a great way to start. Use one of those ideas to hook your reader.
CARL: Yeah, yeah. Just get away from me. Your ideas are stupid. I'll write it myself. [He starts typing away.]
ME: Good idea.
CARL: Just be quiet and leave me alone.
Corey calls me over to the computer and proudly gestures to his paragraph (wearing a suspicious grin). A full page! The title?
"How to Handle Obnoxious People"
At least someone was inspired...