For the first time since I started teaching at the Ed Center I have a class that is more boy than girl. Usually there are a few guys, but never quite this many all at once. And this is something that seems mostly true about my level. In the two levels above mine, there are plenty of guys, but at Level 1, they’ve always been few and far between, and they haven’t really stuck. Jeovany was a rare case … but he had the added attendance incentive of Valerie’s presence in the class to help him earn his ‘Near Perfect Attendance’ award.
And maybe the girls are part of the reason the boys don’t stay. After orientation, one student wrote a refection about what he’d need to do to make this a good school term. He said, “Come to class and really work. Not let any girls keep me from focusing on my goal.”
Well, in this class, he might have an easier time of it. I have only five ladies, and only four have come consistently … and one of those four is about to have a baby (really about to: she was due today … and she was still. in. class!), and another of the four is also pregnant. Meanwhile I have — count them — ten guys. Ten. That just never happens.
At the end of Thursday’s class last week, the reflection asked people to evaluate the first week of class. Another of the guys wrote: “One thing I notice about this class is there are more dudes that females. That may be good for me because females are a real distraction.” I loved that.
It will be interesting to see how the shift in numbers changes the retention rate for the guys, especially after my pregnant students leave. It will be interesting to see how (if?) having so many boys in the room changes my teaching. And I wonder how the girls feel, wonder if all that male in the room will affect their experience of the class, affect their participation. Yeah, as if I’m running some sort of weird, only vaguely defined sociology experiment.
And one more thought on the girls-as-distraction theme: Not that I have any desire to be any kind of distraction to any of my students, but tonight I learned that I couldn’t be even if that were a goal of mine. I learned that I don’t even count as a gendered person! Cheo, a continuing student from the summer, and one of the two older men in the class, was checking ages to see who was the oldest. He was so relieved that Miguel (another continuing student) is older and announced his age to the guys at his table. He said it easily enough — “I’m 44.” — and then did a rapid-fire glance around the room. “Are there any girls in here? No. Ok.” I laughed and pointed out that I was standing right in front of him. “Oh, you don’t count. You’re the teacher.” Oh. Ok.
Really. I have no interest in ‘distracting’ any of my students … but can’t I avoid being a distraction and still get to be a woman?
is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.