There Was A Reason Mama Left Her With You

, , , | Learning | October 19, 2018

(I work at a kindergarten. It is the first day of class, and some kids tend to cry because they don’t want their parents to leave. One tiny four-year-old girl is in my arms, crying softly. But when we get to the classroom, she suddenly launches backwards headfirst. I barely hold on to her before she hits her head. She starts screaming like a banshee, and kicks me repeatedly, so I lay her as carefully as possible on a rug. She keeps screaming, dropping on the floor, hitting her head, leaving hundreds of scratches on her own chest, and banging her head some more against a door. I try to get her to sit on a chair, but she jumps down so hard it flips and almost impales her. If I try to talk to her, she gets even more angry. We call her family, but no one picks up. And by the end of the — short, thank God — day, she is covered of scratches and bumps, but calm and laughing. I am extremely scared that I will get in trouble, though. I explain everything to the girl’s mom when she arrives.)

Mom: *laughs and smiles* “I have five kids, and they have all been like that on the first few days of school. Don’t worry.”

(This happened for one whole month until the girl and I bonded, but my coworkers and I still remember her as Demon Spawn.)

Speech Therapy: There’s An App For That

, , , , | Related | October 17, 2018

(I teach in a low-income area, where lots of people live around a small school designed to care for the children of working families. We make sure the kids have all their needs met and recommend extra help if we think the kids need it. We have a very important rule, though: nothing is free. We charge very little for everything, but the idea was to avoid people thinking of it as charity.)

Me: “[Student’s Mother], we have assessed that [Nephew that lives with her] and [Son] will both need urgent speech therapy. Now, we went ahead and got a fantastic therapist who is willing to come here and do it for 2000 colones each kid per week.”

(That equals about four dollars.)

Mother: “Oh, no! Can’t she do it for free? Remember, [Nephew] was born with hydrocephalus; he is special needs.”

Me: “Yes, this is exactly why we got this fantastic therapist. But this community is too far away; we need to, at least, pay for her gas money.”

Mother: “This makes me so sad… I guess we won’t be able to get them the help they need.”

(Then, she proceeded to place her newest iPhone on the table as she picked up and left. At the end, the kids did get the help they needed, but I had to actually sit with her and go through her finances so she could see where she could cut back in order to pay for therapy.)

This Girl Has A Mouth On Her

, , , | Learning | October 15, 2018

(I work in a kindergarten. I try to switch on the light; it flickers and dies.)

Me: *to my class of four-year-olds* “Oops! Oh, no, kids! The light is sick!”

Girl: “Silly teacher, the light can not be sick.”

Me: *laughs* “Yes, you are correct.”

Girl: “Of course, because it doesn’t have a mouth.”

Listen Here, Sugar…

, , , | Learning | September 10, 2018

(This happens during training for Customer Service Representatives at a large online store.)

Trainer: “For this exercise, I’m going to need five people.”

(I raise my hand, as do another four people.)

Trainer: “Your challenge is to make me a hot tea with the things in this kitchen. You only get ten seconds to discuss how and ten seconds to do it.”

(We discuss and quickly decide each of us gets one task. I get putting the sugar in. [Person #1] grabs a cup. [Person #2] asks about the flavor and runs for the tea. I see him go for the tea, so in the meantime I pour the sugar in. [Person #2] comes back and puts the tea bag in. [Person #3] pours the hot water. [Person #4] walks the cup over to the trainer while mixing in the sugar.)

Trainer: *looks at the rest of the class and points to me* “What did she do wrong?”

Everyone: “She put the sugar in before the tea.”

Trainer: “Exactly. That is not how you do it.”

Me: “Why? That’s how I do it at home.”

Trainer: *taken by surprise* “Because… you don’t.”

Me: “Did it not mix?”

Trainer: *smug look* “Class, what is she doing wrong now?” *no answer* “Here in [Online Store], we always do things like the customer wants it.”

Me: “So, if a customer wants his small purchase to be put in giant box with packing peanuts, but the peanuts have to be put in last… can we actually do that?”

(I know I got a little defensive, but I don’t like being singled out. And much less for something so irrational.)

Things Are Going South By Going North

, , , , | Learning | September 4, 2018

(I have a student I am seriously trying to help at school, but she has been very difficult so far. This is not because she is a bad person, but because she is lazy and doesn’t seem to understand basic concepts. In this case, I am taking care of the group while they work on a social studies evaluation.)

Me: *sees her paper* “[Student], sorry, you have a mistake here. Look. The instructions are to draw an X on the correct answer. So, on the question, ‘Which way does the Sun come out? East, South, or West?’ Just choose one.”

Student: *looks at her paper where she wrote “North” under the other options, then at me* “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, look, let me erase this. So, is it… East, South, or West?”

Student: *grabs her pencil slowly and writes “North” in the same place again*

Me: *wanting desperately to bang my head on the floor* “[Student], listen. Choose one. You don’t need to add options; just draw an X on one of these.”

(I erase “North” again.)

Student: “Yes.”

Me: “[Student], every other question you have drawn an X on, without problem. Just listen… I’ll give you a hint: the answer is not North.”

(I noticed the student seemed to be thinking, so I moved on to another kid. After a while, she called me because she didn’t understand another question. Out of curiosity, I checked the question that was driving me crazy. She wrote, “North.” She also failed that exam. Between me and another coworker, we managed to prepare her for third grade, but it took too much effort on our part, and she only just managed. We had her tested, but got no relevant result. I still worry about her sometimes.)