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. 

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