Monday 19 November, 2012:
Tyler wanders in as school begins, looking for me; wanting to do the same English assessment as Slade and Zion. I squash down any irritation, and install him in the block with a copy to read through, for the time being.
I can’t really spend much time with him till 11:30, because I have year 9’s and then tutor. And it’s not like Tyler can work independently. Well… he can, in the sense that he isn’t going to be a pain, or seek attention. At the same time, he needs a fair bit of help. But he’s a nice kid – and why shouldn’t he have a go at the assessment? So I work with him for most of the afternoon.
First we find shelter in F block. Ross (who is a good man) lets us into an unoccupied classroom. I ask whose room it is, wondering if they’ll mind – and he says, gruffly and kindly, “Doesn’t matter, no-one’s using it. Here you go -” and keys us in.
After lunch, the room’s timetabled for a class, so we end up at Chloe’s. I owe her big time for all her help. By now, Tyler has drafted the whole thing, and needs only to write it up neatly (his first version being full off crossing outs, and tags, and whole sections modified or appended). I get a spare assessment from Chloe, and Tyler begins his good copy with a will.
Everyone who knows Tyler is kind of amazed at this whole scenario. Chloe’s eyes nearly pop out when she realizes he’s been doing this all afternoon. She smiles, a little bit of amusement in her eyes. “Good boy, Tyler!” she says. “I can’t wait to read your assessment… keep going; there’s four credits just waiting for you.”
While working on the draft, we’ve already teased out every last idea of Tyler’s. I haven’t actually read all the texts he’s using for his Connect 4, so his guess is as good as mine in places. But this the third time I’ve seen this assessment take shape, so I feel a certain confidence that he’s almost there. I can kind of ‘get’ the thing, now (English assessments being foreign to me until recently).
When I take it up to Chloe to mark (just before 4), I feel pretty tired, and so does Tyler. He stays outside, and I’m just crossing my fingers. I say to Chloe, “I don’t know if it’s quite there…” and she flicks it open, reads the introduction, murmurs, “Hmm, no problem so far.”
“Really?” I say, and she nods.
“That’s ok… and that’s ok,” she continues, turning her way through it. At one point, she looks up at me and says, “You know, it doesn’t have to be more than a basic achieved to be an achieved.” Then, “This is fine,” she pronounces, coming to the last page. “It’s good enough – there’s no problem with it.”
“Halleluiah!” I exult, and Chloe cracks up laughing.
“Oh my goodness,” I say, relieved, “He’s tried so hard today, and I was a bit worried he still hadn’t cracked it.”
“Well, he definitely has,” Chloe tells me, and I can see she’s not just being ‘nice’ – she’s not that kind of woman.
So Tyler’s credits get put on, straight away. Chloe thanks me for my help, and we talk a little bit. She mentions Slade and Zion, and how it’s great they’ve been able to get their literacy credits as well. “I love it when a plan comes together,” she says.
“Me too,” I say, whole-heartedly.
“Slade’s a very intelligent boy,” says Chloe. “It’s obvious in the quality of what he wrote on that assessment.”
“Yeah, he is,” I say. “It’s just that he’s never experienced academic success, until this year. He came here with zero credits. I don’t think it’s ever occurred to him before, that he’s smart.”
Chloe looks at me, and I see her kind of ‘wonder’ about me, for a second, that I would actually care to spend all day doing this stuff, during my non-contacts. But she kind of gets it, or at least gets that I do care about it very much. And that’s good enough for her.
As for me… doing this stuff is honestly the only thing that gets me through, at school. Working with people, being with people. Not being a ‘History’ teacher or a ‘Social Studies’ teacher. Or any kind of teacher, for that matter. I have to earn my money, and I reckon I do a good enough job of that. But in my heart, the only thing that matters is reciprocity, and being with others, and not standing apart. And so, even for Tyler… who I hardly know. I’m happy to do it, and to somehow let him see he’s not alone here. I don’t completely get it, why this all means so much to me. And my heart kind of pines, sometimes, for all the other people who I’ve cared about, in this dumb place. And I just kind of swallow my pride, at the fact that I’m kind of ‘immaterial’. Well, maybe yes, maybe no… but it’s worth it, a million times over.
Even so, I’m on kind of a ftw buzz. I don’t know exactly why. I guess I just think, oohhhh who’s gonna come with me? Who? And where the fuck are we going? Or am I just going all by myself? Maaan, I hope not.
Supposed to be ringing Kepaoa later. Teri has asked if I could call again. To be honest, sometimes I think to myself, apropos of Kepaoa: well fine then, just stay in Aussie, if that’s what you want. He said he’d text me with the ‘missing flight’ details and all that, and then I never heard anymore about it. Oh who knows… and I really care a lot about Kepaoa. But honestly, if he wants me to do all the running around, it’s not happening. Seriously – I’ve offered to help, already. And now it’s up to him, if he wants to get things moving. He just has to say. I don’t have to say, and say, and say…