So. First blog post. I’m not sure where to begin since I’ve updated you all fairly regularly(ish) on Facebook and Skype, and I’ve never had a blog or diary before so we’re in uncharted territory here, folks. I apologize ahead of time.
Since I’m not sure where to begin, I’m just going to hop right into the daily stuff and hope you can keep up. Ganbare!
Recently I made quite an incredible discovery during one of my classes with my fifth graders. Now, there’s one particular student in my class that is just absolutely adorable (since I don’t want to say his name, we will refer to him as Bubba). He’s got the partially squinty eyes with short hair that’s always sticking up in the front, and he’s just adorable. Now, the problem is: Bubba’s a total dirt bag. He rarely pays attention in class, he distracts the rest of the class with random out bursts, and he’s really mean to other students. Particularly to my recess buddy (we play dominoes and badminton together. We’re pretty cool) who confessed to me that Bubba has hit him on several occasions. Now, while I’m not actually supposed to discipline the students, I can spend time in class to encourage the students to work and to tell them that something they are doing is bad. Of course, that doesn’t really work on this kid much. Pointing at the textbook, smiling dramatically, and saying “oh no! You haven’t written anything!” can only get you so far. So, I have resorted to being the really stubborn old me. (We all know I don’t lose arguments.) So my discipline for this particular student has turned into annoying the crap out of him until he does some work. And it works. I’ll spend a whole minute standing next to him making sure he says every word he’s supposed to.
I’ll make him say “I” and “like” and “baseball” and “I like” and “like baseball” and “I like baseball”, and then I’ll have him say it again for good measure. Rachael Sensei does not allow kids to conduct interviews in Japanese. Rachael Sensei does not allow kids to do silent interviews. Rachael Sensei does not allow crappy English interviews when the question is four words long, the response is three words long, and they learned this sentence pattern in Lesson 4. “What do you like?” “I like baseball.” It’s that easy.
At this point, I sound like a terrible teacher. This is where I mention that I know my students English levels, and I know which students I can push, which students I can annoy, and which students I need to just smile at and say “great job!” no matter what. Bubba has fairly good English. In fact, he’s one of the better English speakers in the class. So I know when he’s just being lazy versus when he doesn’t know the response.
Anyway, the huge discovery I made happened about a week or so ago. We were doing a lesson on foods, and of course Bubba was goofing off and stealing his neighbor’s pen case and throwing it on the floor and making farting noises. After struggling though the first bit of class, we then instructed the students to cut out the food cards provided in the back of their textbooks. As I walked my way around the class I realized the room was unusually quiet but for a few students chit chatting while working. But Bubba was by far the quietest. He wasn’t even talking to his neighbor while he was cutting out the cards. Finding this weird, I meandered my way back to his seat and watched silently for a minute trying to figure out why he was silent. And then it hit me. In a blissful moment full of trumpets descending from the clouds, I realized: this kid is OCD. Bubba is so OCD, in fact, that he couldn’t resist helping the boy next to him cut his cards out and he even re-cut some of the cards that didn’t reach his standards. I didn’t know how to respond. I imagine my feelings mirrored those of Lex Luthor when he first discovered Kryptonite: shocked, giddy, hopeful.
Evil. How do you respond to something this ground breaking? I’ll tell you. You cackle deeply in your mind and begin plotting. Even now I’m hatching plans for games and lessons far in the future that require some degree of meticulousness.
I’ve got this kid now. Bubba is going to have so much fun in future lessons.