Friday, September 25, 2015

So, kids corner is huge today

Kids' corner is so huge today, it may need to change to kids' wall...or maybe even classroom. 

We'll start with some fun stuff. 

Today, while studying frequency of actions, we were reviewing the key expressions: How often do you wash your hands. Let the record show, Jimmy is one of my favourites, and we tease each other sometimes--with the understanding that there is a time and place for teasing.

Kathryn: Grace, how often do you wash your hands?
Grace: Four or five times a day. 
Jimmy: Alright, well, Kathryn. How often do you wash your face (said in the same way people say 'your mom' jokes)?
Jimmy: Ah, that it is a real question, isn't it. Darn it. 
Kathryn: Your face is a real question. 
Jimmy: Ah, I can never win. 
Kathryn: It is true. The deck is stacked against you.
Jimmy: Your face is stacked against you. 
Kathryn: (Uncontrollable giggles with the inability to explain exactly how perfect his response was.)

Today, again, we were making a "How often do you _____?" graph. They has to write, "Once a day, twice a day, three times a day," etc on the X axis of their graph. 

Kevin: I'm going to use thrice instead of three times. I am not a common person.
Kathryn: Okay. 
Kevin: I will only use fancy words for this graph. What comes after thrice, Kathryn?
Kathryn: I don't think anything comes after thrice.
Kevin: It can't just stop. I know five is penta times, what is four?
Kathryn: I don't know. 
Kevin: How do you not know? You studied words in University?!
Kathryn: I don't think there is a word, and I am not sure penta is correct in this context. 
Kevin: I'm gonna use ultra. Ultra should mean four.
Kathryn: Ummm, why?
Kevin: I don't know. I just think so. 
Kathryn: Okay, buddy, you do you.

In my after school class of first graders, we talked about jobs. And, this is what happened:

Kathryn: Please listen. I will say a job. You will do an action and say the job. The job and action will match. Do you understand?

Class: Yessssssssssss teeeeeaaaachaaaa. 
Kathryn: Okay. Here we go, "I'm a pilot."
Class: (makes airplane arms) PILOT.
Kathryn: Good, good. "I'm a dancer."
Tiana: Ballet okay?
Kathryn: Ballet is okay. 
Class: (exaggerated dance move) DAAAAAANNNNCER
Kathryn: Good. "I'm a nurse."
Class: (...)
Tiana: (feet shoulder width apart in an athletic stance...left hand in front of her as if she were holding a person still, right hand two huge spanks, and pushes a shot down to the ground.) Nurse, teacher. Shot in bottom. 
Kathryn:'re absolutely right, Tiana. Good job. 

I usually have ten minutes in between classes. My students often come up and talk to me. We span many kinds of conversation, and on Wednesday my 6th grade student Daniel approached me very shyly, which is quite out of character.

Kathryn: Daniel, are you okay?
Daniel: Yes. But, I am a little nervous.
Kathryn: Why?
Daniel: I need to question you. 
Kathryn: Okay.
Daniel: Ummm,  so you know some people have a brown face. 
Kathryn: Yes. 
Daniel: Is it okay for me to say, "What's up, my [n-word]?"
Kathryn: No, it is not. 
Daniel: Why?
Kathryn: Well, some people use that word in a very bad way. A long time ago in the United States, some white people were very bad to black people.
Daniel: Like, the slave?
Kathryn: Yes. And, even though the United States does not have slaves now, white people and black people are not equal. So, when people who are not black use that word, it pushes the power space between white people and black people farther apart. 
Daniel: Okay, I understand. But, why do some black people use it if it is bad?
Kathryn: Some people think that using it in a positive way takes away the bad part. So, they want to use it for positive power instead of negative power. 
Daniel: Do you believe?
Kathryn: No, I don't. Where did you hear that phrase?
Daniel: Oh, my academy teacher say it every day to class. 
Kathryn: I...what? Are you kidding? Is he or she a black person?
Daniel: No, I not kidding. He is more white than you. Kathryn, I just wanted to question you because you never say it. I will never say, too. 
Kathryn: Okay, Daniel. That is a good plan. 
Bell rings.

This is the one that I get hung up on. I mean, how, how can you teach children these things? These kids aren't dolls. They're not play things. They listen and repeat everything you say. It isn't funny or clever to teach students to say racial slurs because they don't understand exactly what they're saying. These kids know racism; it isn't a foreign concept. Check yourself, academy teacher. You have been given the chance to change kids lives. And, you're going to squander it because you're an immature douche canoe? 

I get it. Not everyone trains to be a teacher. Not everyone is invested in the long term success of their students. But, please, recognise that you, as a teacher, are in a position of power and shape students perceptions and thoughts. Take care of them. Teach them absurd catch phrases worth knowing and never at the expense of another person. This is just common sense. 

To end on a happy note:

Kelly walked into class two days ago with gauze wrapping her hand. I asked her what she did. She replied with something totally normal. I said, "Next time think of something creative just for fun." So, today, her gauze was still there.

Kathryn: Ahh, hey Kel! What did you do?
Kelly: Punched a shark. Then, Tom. 
Kathryn: Why did you punch Tom?
Kelly: Because Voldemort. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

So, I went around the sun

Mid-spring this past year, I honestly had a moment in which I forgot how old I was. A combination of Korean age systems and not really knowing what day of the week it is, I lost track of the time I'd been gone. There are days when I feel like my reckless 18 year old self (which, lesbiehonest, not that reckless). But, also days I feel as old as Grandmother Willow. I never quite feel my actual age. 

People so often quip, "Age is just a number. Mmmmm, be a dear and pass the wine. Pinkies up." Okay, so, maybe just the first part. But, still. Age and the perception of it are slippery concepts. They shift based on what you're feeling and with whom you keep company. Not literally, of course, that's ridiculous. But, Sandra Cisneros wrote an excellent description of this concept in her short story "Eleven." 

I have learned a lot in my time on this earth. I also have a lot of room to grow. so I am going to make a list of 28 things on being 28. Hopefully, it will be a good mix of things I know and things I'm silly for thinking. Let's take this ride together. All aboard!

1. Confidence is sexy. Over-confidence is douche-y. The line between the two is very thin, and once you've crossed, there is a HUGE learning curve that you have to go up, then down, and when you approach that line again, hopefully you've learned something. 

2. Both coffee and wine are best in big pours. Both stain your shirt when you inevitably spill them. 

3. Carry a Tide stick--even when you don't think you need it. Because you will. You always will.

4. If you learn to fold a fitted sheet, you will impress all of your friends and potential partners. 

5. Learn to say no. Learn to  make sure your no is respected. Respect other people's no.

6. Take time for yourself. It is not selfish. It is necessary for processing. Everyone needs different amounts. Realise where your limit is, and respect it. 

7. Being kind is often more important than being right. I mean, don't, like, walk around saying, "2+2=5. Come on in for a big bear hug, ya old schmoob." But, in arguments and debates, sometimes it is okay to back down to preserve integrity. 

8. Luck is a real thing. So is hard work. They go together like ramalamalamakadingadadingdadong

9. Learn a second language. 

10. Read global news. Find media outlets that are not biased. Base your opinions on fact not propaganda. It is important to know things that happen outside of your community. There is an entire world out there that we've not explored. Why are we content reading about the county dog fair and the police blotter that reads "hooligans hooliganning in the new hooligan spot"? Don't be that guy who knows nothing about the world around him. 

11. The weirdest part of the body is the skin on the elbow. Not only for it's funny name, but really, it feels like elephant knees.

12, Being an adult means not eating the pretzels at the bar. It only makes you more thirsty. It's a trap. 

13. Every once in a while, you should stop everything you're doing, look around you, and appreciate that you're the only person in the universe existing in that exact space at that exact time. 

14. If you don't like being tickled, you need to tell partners immediately. If their first reaction to this news is to tickle you, leave. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. (Okay, a little extreme, but who does that? Ass hats, that's who.)

15. The invention of facebook has completely restructured my wasting time strategies. I used to be so efficient because there was nothing else to do but the work I had to, so I did it. I spent my free time mapping out fire escape routes from every conceivable place in my childhood home. I was terrified. Now, I don't even have an escape ladder. I still have a go bag. It still has my beanie babies in it. So, obviously, the important things are taken care of. 

16. Find something about which you're passionate. 

17. Work so you can make money to follow your passion. If your passion and work end of coinciding, that's better. If you find work using your passion, that is the best. 

18. Have a meaningful "Get to know you" question. One that makes a person think before they respond. You can derive a lot more from knowing someone's zombie apocalypse plan than their favourite colour.

19. Unexpectedly catching someone taking a selfie is probably one of the best feelings ever. Another good one is being caught taking a selfie. 

20. Everyone looks good in hats. Some people wear them confidently; some people do not. THAT is the difference between hat people and non-hat people. 

21. While hiking one morning, my friend and I discussed the nature of greater powers. And, she suggested, "What if the Earth was some kind of atom in a molecule of a giant being?" That really got me. I mean, I can't even conceive the universe, nor can I imagine what it looks like. It could literally be anything. 

22. Sometimes, I feel silly when I need external validation. I feel like I should be fine with *knowing* that I did a good job. But, sometimes it is important to share with someone you trust your achievements. It's okay to want to hear, "Hey, I'm proud of you. That was awesome, and you should be proud of it, too."

23. I also feel silly when I ask for help. I feel like I am needy and that my problems are-- for all intents and purposes--rather mild. And, I don't want to trouble people with them. This, my friends, is *actually* silly. Stop kidding yourself. Ask for help. It is often one of the bravest things you can do. 

24. I no longer feel silly when I make mistakes. Sometimes, I feel frustrated, but embarrassment, anger, and frustration do not change the fact that I  made a mistake. I can take what I have learned and grow from it. 

25. It takes so much more energy to be negative than it does to be positive. Well, that maybe isn't true. BUT, negativity often breeds more negativity, which leads to a big giant cluster of awful. Try to manoeuvre  your perspective in a way that allows positive emotions to trickle into it. 

26. After about the twelfth Korean rice cake, you become an expert at finding a better home for them than the mountain on your desk. 

27. Listen to the rain. It has as much of a story to tell as I do. 

28. In big life decisions (where to go next, what to study, what to do), there is no such thing as a right or a wrong decision. It is the decision you make. And, because you made it, you need to live it fully and without reservations. By doing so, it becomes the right decision. Of course, it is always fun to think about the"What ifs?" But, do so with the same whimsy as you would a pipe dream.  

So, there you have it folks. 28 things I've learned from being 28. Let's see where the next twelve months takes us.

--Kat(i)e Bots