“Jay, We Gotta Find
You a Group. ”
Spring in this part of the world is characterized by mud—and rain, which leads to more mud. It's hard to remember, as I make my way back down the dirt road after dropping Jay off and listen to the thwump of mud in my tires, that this rain and mud are working together to create fertile ground in the fields around me. Sometimes the pace of change is not what we wish it to be.
Although my after-school collaboration with Jay was going well that spring—we were working on his eagle report, reading and discussing A Wrinkle in Time, and continuing our second-hand investigation of various insects while planning a trip to the University entomology lab during the summer—my work with Laura was not. Laura's reaction to the eagle report, a blend of surprise, doubt, and congratulatory support, was just one example of the many ways in which she communicated her persistently low expectations for Jay. I tried to share what Jay and I were doing with her but she did not want to talk about it: She was always too busy. She seemed to welcome my weekly intrusions into her classroom to videotape, but dismissed my attempts to portray Jay, his abilities, and his family in more holistic ways in our conversations. I watched as Jay became more and more excluded within the classroom community, and as he began to respond to this exclusion in ways that ultimately confirmed Laura's portrayal of him as “different. ”
The students sit inaUshapeand Jay, Danny, Cheryl, Scott, Ned, Matthew, and Molly are outside the U, each a separate little island scattered around the margins of the classroom (see Fig. 11.1). It's reading time. Laura distributes the novel the students are engaged in reading, The Whipping