just another Wednesday.

One downside of being a teacher is that we are not superhuman. Society expects it, and I wish we were, but we’re not.  We can’t guarantee success for every student, we can’t protect them from harm/reality, and we can’t fight off their innumerable, questionable, probably unidentifiable bacteria and viruses. Someone is always sick and someone is always coughing and sneezing, wiping his/her hands on desks, friends, papers, my desk and supplies, and it’s impossible to protect myself. When I’m lucky, I get sick ~3 times a school year. I’m not sure if that’s too much, but I think it’s pretty good since I’m exposed to these virus-prone children all school year. It’s no wonder that most teachers and friends think that my normal voice is husky. Once upon a time, I had an audible, pleasant(?) voice.

Anyway, it’s the third week of school and I’m already sick. At least 5 kids are running around with the virus, and I’ve caught it.  (Virus, thy name is child!) Since it seems to be more mild than the others, I have been going to work; which means, I’ve been coming home exhausted. I’ve been doing my household chores, taking care of my husband, and cleaning this and that every day.  Luckily, there hasn’t been much to grade at home (since I complete it at work), but days end quickly and mornings come too soon.

It’s much appreciated when the husband notices and wakes up early to make me breakfast, pack my lunch, and offers to go out for dinner so that I don’t have to cook and clean. *Note: He’s currently on a 2-week break from work.  And I much appreciated it today when I insisted on cooking dinner and he insisted that we eat out.

Today we ate at Zachary’s. An occasional break from the norm is often welcome.

September, 1918 by Amy Lowell

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.

“About Me”: A Description of My Students

On the first day of school, I had my students write a short narrative titled, “About Me”.  I read them during lunch today and I couldn’t help laughing out loud from their sentences and honesty.  Here are some of their thoughts on their selves: (*note: I typed them as is, errors and all)

  • My name is ___. I don’t really know that much.  I also have a kindle fire that has a few books, but mostly games.  I also have double jount.
  • I love math just because.
  • My bad were writing.
  • I was born on May 24, 2001 at 5:24PM.
  • I very good words…
  • My childhood is great because my dad lets me play games.  My childhood is great because my mom takes me to movies.
  • I don’t like language arts because I don’t find it interesting.
  • (Goals) I want to be able to carry lots of books and get to every single class on time.
  • I don’t like math because there are so many numbers and get confusing.
  • My favorite subject is art and math.  In second grade I had my dad make me math problems like 967329843+ you get the point!
  • I’ve never gotten a below average grade on my report card, and I hope to keep it that way.
  • This year I want to learn, and be smart.
  • I like writing too but I can’t see things that far away so I usually sit closer to the board.
  • Growing up was quite easy and fun.
  • I am a very big fan of a band named Green Day.  I like them because their songs are about political problems and they are liberal.
  • I don’t remember that much of my childhood.
  • My child flew by quicker than a cheetah can run. (I think he meant “My childhood..”)
  • Eating, playing weren’t that hard.
  • You look like a good teacher (which you are).
  • I would like to go to paris but I know I can’t because I don’t have a passport.
  • I like wolves, wild dogs, and domestic dogs… I was highly known as the “wolf freak” at school. (female student)
  • My family is alright.
  • My weakness is puppies and my strength is carrots.
  • The things I hate are my sister when she is being annoying to me.
  • My weakness was knowing where to put the period in my sentences.
  • I used to always get Icee at Target. The flavor was always cherry.
  • I’m borned in New Zealand.
  • One of my weakness is well I don’t really have one.
  • I like to be neat, so I can find things.

I see potentials for good beginning sentences of stories. Honesty is original, and I hope I can develop these honest voices.

One day they’ll grow up and forget.

It has only been the second day of school, so it’s too early to jump to conclusions, but the kiddos I’ve taught last year have been popping into my classroom here and there, yelling “HI, MRS. SHIN!!!”, looking around their old classroom, trying to see if there have been any changes, and telling me that they miss my class. I smile and ask how their 7th grade is going. Some respond with a shrug and some say they hate it. It’s too early to judge, I tell them, but a tiny part of me wants them to hold onto their 6th grade memories and how fun it was (sometimes, at least). Once they begin getting used to 7th grade, they will move on and forget.

I know that within the next year, they’ll gradually grow up.  They’ll become too timid and shy to say “Hi!” They’ll smile, maybe, but eventually I’ll become another adult, another teacher from their past.

I hope one day in the future when they’re asked about their youth and education, they’ll remember my class… and the many many things I’ve taught them. ;)

A Challenge to Prove Intelligence

My afternoon group of 6th graders are full of questions that are sometimes… frustrating. E.g., a fill in the blank question has an ‘s’ attached at the end to hint at its verb tense or that it is plural. A student asks, “Do I need to add the ‘s’ when I write the word out, or will it be okay if I leave it out since it’s already added?”

Anyway, a couple days ago, I presented a spelling review challenge with a code-decoding exercise.  Its written instructions seemed vague, but that was part of the challenge. If you found the solution to the first code, the instructions would become clear.  I anticipated a tsunami of redundant questions, so I presented the exercise in a psychoanalytical approach.

“The instructions to this exercise will be vague at first. But take the time to see a pattern within the codes and try to solve the first problem.  Once you find the first solution, everything will be easy. If you figure it out without asking me any questions, you will prove to me that you are very intelligent.”

Even my most nettlesome students kept quiet as they pondered and pondered.  A few minutes later, I saw a head bobbing up, and the student looked at me with a smile. I knew that kid would solve it first. A few minutes later, another smile, then another, then another; smiles all around as they patted themselves on the back for proving their intelligence. They even said, “That was fun!”

I smiled too.