Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stories from the Classroom

Sometimes, entertaining things happen in my classroom.  Usually the stories are not long enough to merit an entire blog post, so I’m going to group a few of them together here to share them.

I've started something new before homeroom every morning.  I’m using my resources (in this case, a classroom full of native Spanish speakers) wisely.  The kids are allowed in my room at 7:45, but homeroom doesn't technically start until 8:05am.  So I've told them that from 7:45-8:00, my room is now a Spanish-only zone.  It’s great.  I get to practice Spanish.  My students get to teach me something.  AND they get to laugh at my accent, pronunciation, and grammar mistakes.   The kids love it.  The second morning I did this, my homeroom increased in size by a third…all of my other students heard about the new experiment and came in to marvel at the “amazing Spanish-speaking English teacher.”  Now, one of my homeroom kids has upped the stakes.  If I speak a word of English, she gains a point.  If she speaks English, she loses a point.  If at 8:00am she has any points, I owe her candy.  Hey, if it keeps her interested in talking to me and keeps me honest about how hard I’m trying, I’ll go for it.  

Sometimes my kids make me laugh…like the day my students decided to make guesses and deductions about my personal life and came to the conclusion that it’s not acceptable for me to be single.  And then one smart-mouth mentioned, under his breath, “Mr. _____ está available.”  (the teacher in question happens to be a great guy…who is in his 60s).  The class erupted in laughter.  At least their next 2 suggestions were teachers in my age bracket. 

And of course as a teacher, there are moments that make me proud.  For example, I have one student who struggles in my class, but for some reason finds poetry a little easier than everything else.  He came up to me to show me a poem he’d finished, and was so excited about it, he asked to read it aloud to me rather than letting me read it silently. 

I've also experienced serendipity.  One period we were in the library working on presentations.  My students’ job is to convince their classmates to travel to the country they've studied.  My students had already sent email questions to contacts (friends of mine) in other countries as well as done some internet research, (and they've each written a research paper on their country).  That day in the library we were working on putting all of their information together into a presentation.  Someone alerted the Mexico group that “there is someone from Mexico sitting very close to you,” and within minutes the three of them had converged on the high school social studies teacher who is from Mexico (and was in the library on her prep period).  She was willing to talk to them, and they spent the next half hour essentially conducting a 2nd interview (and taking up the poor woman’s prep period).  I’m please they value a primary research source so highly, and I’m excited to hear the authentic information they've gained!  (And I will personally be sending a thank-you note to the teacher for her willingness to help). 

And to close…a poem.  Written by one of my students after I’d given him detention for being late to class for the 4th day in a row, because he chose (wisely) to visit the restroom before class, yet failed to make it to the room in an adequate amount of time. 

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