Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Light
Signs I am slowly getting better at this teaching thing.

1) During distribution periods I managed to keep thirty-odd kids I’d never met before seated and relatively quiet for the entire forty-five minutes. If that isn’t amazing enough, the teacher next door—a wonderful Puerto Rican woman with this highly effective, sweet-yet-firm, motherly teaching style that I’ll never even begin to approach—walked over and mouthed “what the fuck?” (she’s cool like that) and pointed to all her charges streaming out the doors and raging down the hall.

2) A large percentage of the kids in the rigid Ms. Swiss’ class have circulated and signed a petition asking to be switched into my class. I suffer no illusions that this is not due in large part to me being a slack-ass pushover and never remembering to collect the homework or even if I assigned any homework or especially what number homework assignment we are on.

3) However, Ms. Swiss--who last year never spoke to me at all except to offer, in a tone meant to reflect her infinite patience with my incompetence, that perhaps I should try to prevent my students from destroying her property in the classroom, and that maybe, just maybe, there were some children in my classes who were a little, err, wild—actually approached me the other day and expressed admiration for my “technique.”

“You seem to have the whole class engaged and trying to answer questions.”

This “technique,” of standing in front of the class and talking and cracking stupid jokes and asking questions is, apparently, highly unusual.

4) And, a couple of students in my over-sized pain-in-the-ass Level 4 class where we never get anything done because I’m so busy trying to make everyone shut up and sit down have begun attending both that class and my afternoon 9th period class, where I let them hang out as long as they behave and do some work.

5) That 9th period class is a total blast. I’m always exhausted by then, so I tend to deviate from the lesson plan and do things like letting (and in fact encouraging) Pablo Pernil to beat-box or repeat everything I say in a Donald Duck voice, or letting Fernando Tejada teach me Spanish tongue-twisters* or pontificate on the origins and meaning of his rather horrible, self-inflicted Latin Kings tattoos. It’s all-good though, because as silly as these kids are, they’re always engaged. They know enough English to carry on a conversation with me, and, shocker, they’re actually interested in learning more, constantly asking me how to say this or pronounce that, and when we do get down to business, they work. Amazing.

6) Finally, the ultimate sign things are going better, good stories to tell on this here blog are becoming fewer and farther between.**

*With how many planchas did Pancha plancha? Go ahead, aks me.

**Famous last words, right?

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