Banned Ham {or why I have high expectations for my students}

Today this conversation happened in my second hour Spanish 2 class:

Me: From here on out the saying, “Going HAM” is banned from this classroom.*

Students:  Why?  Because it stands for bad language?  It’s a song, Mrs. Sluiter.

Me:  I am aware of the song.  I think we might even have the album at home.  Or not.  Probably not.  Do you know why?  Because “Going HAM” is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.  I think the day I heard it, I got a tad dumber.

Students: ::chuckling:: YOU know that song?

Me: Yes. We listen to the rap.  And while I could go on and on about how ridiculous and offensive the whole song is and how it makes me sad for Jay-Z that he collaborated on such a piece of garbage, my point here is that HAM? is a lunch meat.  Going ham sounds like something you are doing for lunch.  It does not sound like you are all hard and bad.  It sounds like you are craving pork. And really?  If you look at what it stands for it should be Going HAAMF.  Yeah, not as catchy, but more accurate.  So on the basis of good taste, accuracy, and overall common sense, I am going to have to ban that phrase from this classroom.

Students:  ::in between dying from laughter:: Ok, you have a point.  Can we say “Going Hard in the Paint”?

Me: Is that a basketball reference?

Students:  Yes.

Me:  While it’s still sort of dumb, it makes more sense.  So yes.  You may say that.

Students:  Deal.  Oh, and Mrs. Sluiter?  You have been Going Hard in the Paint this week on grades.  Good job.

Me:  Gee.  Thanks.

::end scene::

Why did I tell you this?

It’s not because I want to discuss rap lyrics and why teenagers are allowed to listen to it (if they are like me?  They probably aren’t allowed to, but they do anyway.  I mean, that’s what I did).

It’s not because I want to tell you how yes, Cort and I listened to (and still do listen to) music with vulgarity in it (but not in front of Eddie.  Because that kid loves music so much, he memorizes everything he hears.  Currently he is in love with “Brass Monkey” by The Beastie Boys).

I’m telling you this because I see the 100+ kids that walk through my classroom each day as my own.  And if Eddie tried to tell me he was Going Ham on his homework?  I would have had this same conversation with him.

I am honest and forward with my students.  The same way I would be with my own child.

This extends beyond just dumb rap lyrics.

Yesterday my Quarter 2 grades were due.  I had an obnoxious number of students failing because they weren’t turning in their work.

I told each and every one of those students that I was disappointed in them.  I told each of those students that this doesn’t fly with me.

I had kids argue that my standards were too high. That I expected too much.

I thought about this claim, and realized that what I expect from them is no less than what I would expect from Eddie.

When Eddie is in high school I will expect him to do his class work and his homework and study for tests and prepare for class.  I expect him to make up work in a timely manner if he is absent.  If he does have problems and do poorly or fail, I expect him to do what he can to right the matter as soon as he can.

Why would I expect less from my students?

They are not my  children, but….they are.

They are someone’s.

And regardless of whether those parents are still there for the kids, or whether something has happened along the way to where they are now, for the hour they are with me?  They are mine.  And I will treat them that way.

I will hold them to high standards.

I will expect them to treat me and others the way I teach my son to treat me and others.

And I will honestly tell them that Going Ham is the dumbest thing ever.

*warning: this is a Kayne West song and it includes vulgarity that may not be appropriate for work.