A new school year has officially started, and with it, a new crop of 7th graders. This week has been full of briefing kids on routines and procedures as well as getting to know them and building community.
Each year I have an advisory group. These 10-15 students come to my room for 10 minutes each morning, and for 40 minutes on Monday afternoon. I act as their advocate, checking in with them about everything from their grades to their social well-being, making sure no one falls through the cracks. This first week of school, my advisory spent a lot of time together.
One thing I’ve learned: if you want a recipe for instant unity, the secret is to introduce a team mascot.
Enter Bob, the Flying Pejelagarto.
I had this furry frog/lizard stuffed animal in my classroom, left over from last year. As my kids and I started to brainstorm names for our group (each advisory gives themselves a name, writes a chant or cheer, and competes against the other advisories in friendly competitions throughout the year), I pulled the lizard off of my shelf and suggested the possibility of using him as a mascot.
30 seconds later, a group of boys was giggling and piped up, “We’ve got a name! We can be the pejelagartos!” The rest of the class seemed to approve, as well as finding this hilarious.
Now, I know “lagarto” is Spanish for lizard, but I’d never heard the term pejelagarto. I asked the students what it was, and the boy who’d thought of it said, “It’s like a…hairy lizard! It’s that thing!” pointing to my stuffed animal. So we named our pejelagarto Bob, and that was that.
As soon as my kids left the room, I sent a message to my trusted information source when it comes to Guatemalan Spanish—Richard—to make sure that the word has no inappropriate connotations. Surprisingly, Richard had never heard the word either, but after a quick consult with his coworkers, he was back with the answer: a pejelagarto is a character from the movie Monsters, Inc. Specifically, it’s the character Randolph.
All right then. Bob the Pejelagarto it is.
Bob has become the superstar of our advisory. My students made him a cape, so he’s a superhero of sorts. When we’re in advisory, one of the kids is generally holding him, petting him, or sitting with him perched on a shoulder. When we go out to play kickball, Bob comes with us. Our advisory cheer involves a group huddle, with Bob sitting on the middle of our hands (so he is tossed into the air at the end of the cheer).
Yesterday after an evacuation drill, my advisory beat me back to our room. I entered to find them all clustered around a desk in the back of the room with Bob in the center. Bob has become family. Two of the boys have deemed themselves mother and father. Another girl is Bob's madrina (godmother). In the group standing around him, another student made himself a priest and with a bit of water, Bob was baptised. He even had a white baptism gown. All of the advisory students swore an oath to protect Bob and make sure no harm comes to him.
|the baptism gown|
Bob’s adventures are sure to continue. For example, apparently Bob’s birthday is coming up this week, and a party is being planned.