Life has handed me some interesting things this week and it is at times like this that I am thankful for my kids. My little boo-bots (an affectionate name taken from my lovely sis-in law) waddle into my classroom, with their miniature glasses fogged up; doing the dance of strewing their winter clothes while simultaneously walking like a duck or hopping like a rabbit. Slithering on the floor after another student has dumped their science project down themselves and across the floor is also a popular choice. When they run and attack my legs I forget about everything else except listening to their breathless excited comments like: “and I go and I sleep for two days (holds up fingers to demonstrate) and sledding and FUN but maybe a little bit scared.” Or answering classic questions such as “Teacher how do you spell U.S.A?”
I love how everything is so exciting and funny. One crowd-pleaser that never fails involves our velcro calendar. Each day, one student gets to be the calendar helper and change the day of the week and write the day and year with a white board marker. I made the days of the week into little blue rockets and one day Tony decided he was going to put the day-of-the-week-rocket upside down. Shouts of laughter ensued. Followed by giggling that rose out of the depths of their tiny people selves and exploded with the force of said rocket. Then June decided to write the day -10th 2012- and add an angry face at the end. Now every. single. day. the kids hold their breath to see if today’s friend is going to add a scary face and when they do, it’s like another planet was discovered. Inexhaustible joy over small things. It’s kind of infectious.
And then there’s my Elite Class. They are older, wiser and like to talk about death a lot more. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t still occasionally get the giggles and use Transformers in their debate topics. What is interesting to me is how one can actually observe the transition between worlds as it’s taking place: pretending to bang into the door and falling down and then discussing why elementary students should be able to date. This intimate class of only three students is never boring and most of the time I wish I could tape our classes just to catch some of the things they come up with. Here are a few:
Sunny, a bright and strong student walked into my class the other day and noticed a drawing one of my kindergarten students had colored for me. It is a sweet picture of a girl trying to catch a butterfly outside in an idyllic flower and sunshine filled world. This is not Sunny’s style. “Teacher, I think that girl is killing that butterfly because that (pointing to the black lines denoting a net) looks more like a tennis racket.” Ha ha. Then during our reading class we were talking about green houses and how growing grass and plants over your roof can help the environment. When it came time for the reading comprehension section I asked them why people put plants on their houses in the article. “Because the houses needed hair.” What kills me is the dry delivery of these comments and how observant Sunny is in general. When she says something like that -it actually makes sense. Also, shockingly Sunny actually listens to what I say. The other week during our debate class we read a story about the law Title IX which required universities to fund women’s sports and not just men’s. Not able to help myself, I initiated a conversation about sexism and even taught them the word sexist. Beyond encouraging the conversation and sharing new vocab, I tried to not interfere too much. I always tell them that I want to hear what they actually think rather than what they know they should say according to their parents or teachers. So I was quite happy when James responded to my question “Should women be allowed to work as firefighters?” with “Yes, because women is more braver.” ha ha.
However, during our next debate class, James decided to give his speech on: “Why having a little brother is better than having a little sister.” He explained that girls only want to play with dolls and sit around being bored. But then in an interesting twist, he said that in fact, his brother wanted to play with dolls so was more like a girl but he still loved him and playing with him. Hummm…. Next up: Sunny for the rebuttal. And low and behold with absolutely NO reminders or prompts from me her first sentence is: “I disagree because that argument is sexist.” Could have knocked me over with a feather if I hadn’t already been squeezed into a pint sized, neon green, plastic chair. She continued: “Then you are saying that boys are better than girls and I played with lego guns when I was little and girls can keep secrets better and boys are boring too.” Quite the argument for a ten year old.
But then this is from the student who filled out a “finish the story” assignment this way:
It was a stormy night. She was sitting in her house when “she eat storms. So she get very fat. and whan she is breating the storms burst out in her mouth. When she died she were breating herd so the earth vanish on the space.”