Her Lessons Aren’t Exactly Music To Their Ears

, , , | Learning | May 6, 2020

I am studying to become a teacher and we’re learning about music class. We are supposed to learn how to teach music, but all the teacher does is sit behind the piano and let us sing children’s songs. She scolds us if we can’t reach the high notes, which causes the only man of our group to just stop coming. 

Halfway the term, the teacher once again rounds us up around the piano and asks if we have any requests. One of my classmates raises her hand.

Classmate: “Yes, I have a question. When are we going to do something useful in this class?”

The class fell silent; the teacher was silent, too, but I could read thunder from her eyes. After a moment, we were sent to our seats again and told we could go “self-study” for a group performance on musical instruments in a few weeks. She didn’t tell us how to read notes, so we helped each other and the end result was… well, frankly, absolutely terrible. We did all pass the class, including the male student who didn’t show up any more.

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Please Keep Off Of The Grass, Shine Your Shoes, Wipe Your… Face

, , , , , , | Learning | May 5, 2020

I’m in the room reading a book while my five-year-old niece is on a Zoom call with her kindergarten class. Her teacher is asking her students for ways to keep the Earth clean because it’s Earth Day. 

All of a sudden, I hear one little boy go, “Shave your grass!”

He meant “mow the lawn,” but I am definitely using his phrasing from now on.

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The Teacher Isn’t The Smartest Cookie, But She Sure Is Sweet

, , , , , | Learning | May 5, 2020

I am a teaching assistant in an elementary school. My name is extremely uncommon and also happens to be spelled almost exactly like a popular cookie brand. I’m used to people joking about it and don’t really mind.

A few days before classes start, all the faculty meet at the school for orientation, and afterward, I spend a few hours helping my partner teacher set up the classroom.

Teacher: “So, how do you pronounce your name?”

Me: “[My Name].”

Teacher: “Okay, gotcha. Good thing you have a name tag!”

Me: “Yeah, I feel like many of the younger kids will have trouble pronouncing it, but it’s fine.”

On the first day of school…

Teacher: “Welcome, class! My name is Mrs. [Teacher], and this is Ms. [Cookie Brand].”

Me: “Actually, it’s Ms. [My Name].”

Teacher: “Whoops! Sorry about that.”

Day two…

Teacher: “Ms. [Cookie Brand], can you please collect these papers?”

Me: “Sure. But it’s Ms. [My Name].”

Teacher: “Right! Sorry, sorry. I’ll remember that.”

Day three…

Teacher: “It’s time to line up for recess! Please form a neat line behind Ms. [Cookie Brand].”

Students: “It’s Ms. [My Name]!”

Teacher: “Oh, no. I got it wrong again, didn’t I?”

I thought it was pretty hilarious, but the teacher honestly felt bad that she kept messing up my name. The next week, she brought me a bag of those cookies, but she had covered the brand name with masking tape and written the correct spelling of my name in all caps. Most people who mess up my name just keep saying it incorrectly, but she made a huge effort to use the correct pronunciation after that.

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That Four-Year-Old Is Braver Than Some Adult Editors…

, , , , , , , | Learning | May 4, 2020

It is spring 2004. A species of cicada emerges as adults every seventeen years in the Washington, DC area — DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.  

They are everywhere: trees, buildings, roads. And they make an eerie sound because of the billions of them that are trying to find a mate at the same time. When they emerge, they come out of the ground in their nymph stage, dry out, and then molt their exoskeleton one last time. Once they’ve mated, they lay their eggs in the outer twig-like branches of trees. In doing so, the egg takes its nutrition from the tree, killing off the outer twelve inches or so of every branch of the tree.

So, all of the Hitchcockian effects of this insect: little mounds of dirt where each cicada emerges, discarded exoskeletons, cicadas flying everywhere, eerie sound, and many trees’ outer branches dying off.

During this time, I’ve headed to my daughter’s preschool, which is a Montessori school. They’ve taken it upon themselves to make this Biblical insect plague a teachable moment. I’m walking up to the front of the school to check my daughter out for the day. I hear the playful squeals of kids in the back playground. But one little girl, about four years old, is standing out front, looking intently at something in her hands.

The girl holds up her hands to me, showing me the dried leaving of a cicada’s molt, and says, “Look, mister. An exo-skeleton!”

“Why yes,” I say. “That’s exactly right!”

It’s great that instead of being afraid, this girl and all her classmates now have a better appreciation of nature.


This story was featured in our May 2020 roundup!

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A Good Head On Your Well-Toned Shoulders

, , , , | Learning | May 2, 2020

I spent four years rowing in college and I keep it up on rowing machines once in a while. Today at the gym, I sit down next to a guy with horrible technique and start passive-aggressively impressing and challenging him by pulling better numbers with lower resistance and waaay fewer strokes per minute.

Two guys are having a look at the machine on my other side. One sits down and starts pulling.

Me: “Hi. Can I give you a tip?”

Curious Guy #1: “Sure!”

Me: “The motion goes: legs-back-arms, arms-back-legs. Make sure your hands come forward before your legs bend; that way you’ll never hit your knees with the handle.”

I repeat a couple of times and demonstrate slowly. The guy starts to pick it up and then switches with his friend. The man with horrible technique stands up from the machine on my other side and approaches the Curious Guys.

Horrible Technique Guy: “You should be pulling the handle up high into your chest.”

Me: “I rowed for four years, and I pull it right at my bra strap — not that you have a bra strap, but… right here.” *Demonstrates* “Pulling it up so high gives you what we call chicken arms.”

Horrible Technique Guy: “Yes, but the trainer here told me that.” 

Me: “Yes. How long has the trainer spent rowing?”

Horrible Technique Guy: “All I’m saying is that everyone will have different advice, and you just have to find a way to do it that makes you comfortable.”

Curious Guy #2: “You have four years of experience; I’m going to trust you.”

Me: “Thanks. And when you’re ready, relax your shoulders!”

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