Stop Being A Pill And Get Back To Class

, , , , , | Learning | March 31, 2020

I teach workshops to the general public. I allow a ten-minute break about halfway through. I use breath mints to keep my mouth moist as I have to talk for about three hours. At break time, I finish the last mint and throw the tin away. One of the participants sees me.

Participant: “Hey, don’t do that; you could use those for pills or something.”

Me: “I didn’t need it, so…”

Participant: “Yeah, but those tins are useful. You can use them for pills.”

Me: “Well, I’m not going to take it out of the trash, but feel free if you want to.”

She looked at me like I’m the one who was crazy. At the end of the workshop, I looked in the trash and the tin was still there. I guess she wasn’t that gung-ho about it, after all.

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A Student, Hungary For Knowledge, Visits Turkey

, , , , , | Learning | March 30, 2020

I teach fourth grade. I’m trying to get my students familiar with the nations of the world.

Me: “[Student], please name a country.”

Student: “Oh, man…”

Me: “Correct.”

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Time To Socially Distance Yourself From Such Ideas

, , , , , , , | Learning | March 30, 2020

(This is with one of my before-school music groups. The students are nine to eleven years old. Panic buying has started, even though no cases have been reported in our county yet, although other areas of Florida have had it.)

Girl #1: “You know there’s not going to be any more toilet paper or hand sanitizer.”

Girl #2: “Really?”

Me: “No, not really. Let’s get back to practice.”

Girl #1: “But they’re closing every school and store. You can’t buy anything anymore and they’re even closing factories because people can’t touch things.”

Girl #2: “Ew! I don’t want their hands touching my toilet paper!”

Boy #1: “Yeah, because they have to cut each sheet individually.”

Me: “That’s not how it works and that’s not what we’re doing right now. You can research how toilet paper is made on your computers later. But they’re not closing anything near us, so stop talking, stop trying to scare others, and let’s get back to playing. Now.”

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Twinsies! Sort Of. Not Really.

, , , , | Learning | March 28, 2020

(I am a third grade teacher. I have two students who are best friends who look very different from each other. Though they are the same height, [Student #1] has long, light brown hair that she always wears down and she usually wears shorts or jeans and a T-shirt. Her best friend, [Student #2], is skinnier, has shorter, blonde hair that she usually wears in pigtails, has huge pink glasses, and usually wears a blouse, skirt, and knee-length socks. One morning, the girls show up to school very excitedly.)

Student #1: “Notice anything different?”

Me: “I… can’t say I do.” 

Student #2: “Really? Nothing else? We’re dressed like each other!”

Me: “Really…”

Student #1: “Well, okay. We aren’t dressed exactly like each other. We had a sleepover last night, and we decided to pretend to be each other, but she didn’t have any skirts or… those long leg thingies.”

Student #2: “Socks?”

Student #1: “Yeah. She didn’t have any in my size.”

Student #2: “I actually did, but the socks had holes.”

Student #1: “And then we tried to put her hair up but it didn’t want to do that. And I tried to wear my hair like her, but it was uncomfortable, so I wore a ponytail, instead.”

(I didn’t really notice it until then.)

Student #2: “And then I couldn’t give her my glasses, because then I wouldn’t be able to see anything. And she gave me her shirt.”

Me: “So, the only things that changed were that you’re wearing her shirt and changed your hair.”

Student #3: “Hey, [Student #1]… Woah! You look just like her, [Student #2]. Except for the glasses. And she would never wear a ponytail.”

Student #2: “See, Mr. [My Name]! We look exactly the same.” 

(The girls went and sat down next to each other, and for the rest of the day all of the other kids in the class kept gushing about how much [Student #2] looked like [Student #1], even though the only thing that changed was the hair and a shirt.)

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Even Language Teachers Have Language Barriers

, , , , , | Learning | March 22, 2020

(I am working as an online English teacher for kids in China. Sometimes during a lesson, a kid might not understand what he is supposed to do. The most direct explanation would be to explain it in Chinese; however, there are three reasons why this is the last resort. The class is supposed to be immersive and the students should not hear or speak Chinese during the lessons. My Chinese is not good enough to carry on a conversation. Despite my best efforts, my accent confuses kids who have not had much English experience and they think my Chinese is just more English they do not understand. Here is an example of what can happen when I resort to Chinese.)

Me: *circling the fire truck on the screen* “What is this?”

Boy: “What… is this?”

Me: “No, no… What is this?”

Boy: “What is this?”

Me: “No…” *still circling the firetruck* “Zhege shi shenma?” *“This one is what?”*

Boy: “Zhega shi shenma…”

Father: *laughing and saying in Chinese* “No, the teacher is trying to speak to you in Chinese. He is asking you what this is.”

Boy: *sheepish chuckling* “Oh, oh, oh… It’s a firetruck.”

(The rest of the class proceeded much easier as he got better at recognizing the receptive language. It’s nice when there is an English-proficient parent around to bail me out.)

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