Posts Tagged ‘2nd grade’

For the last few weeks, nearly every time I walk into my Tree House classroom, I want to maim and mangle the little monsters I teach.  Sometimes I worry that it’s my lack of technique and proper strategy, but I usually comfort myself with the fact that most teachers who have a class in this curriculum hate their children as much as I do.

The true problem is that I like the kids individually and even mostly as a class (save Ian Wang, that wicked little blight on humanity and Jay the budding sociopath or politician).  It’s only when they have to be dealt with as a mass of children that the slow boiling rage starts to simmer and I use the teacher’s-desk-and-chair-as-cage on kid after kid in close succession.

Yesterday was terrible with this class and after I wiped the board clean of points and sent them home with no stamps, I went to my desk out in the main office space and put my head down to curse slowly and methodically and more creatively than is my wont.  Today, I sat them down and made them write two lessons’ worth of worksheets, and the situation was a little better.  The best thing was that Ian Wang was a little cowed by being sent to the first grade classroom yesterday and thoroughly and sickeningly-sweetly tongue-lashed by my supervisor.  What made me feel bad about myself, though, was that when he came back and apologized at break time, I could only see his sullenness and think “I want you broken, kid, not falsely contrite and seething.”

Teaching is not for everyone.

Or teaching certain levels is not for everyone, because my favorite class that used to be on Tuesday is now on Friday, and today was a wonderful end-of-level games day.  I made a crossword puzzle and photocopied the word search in the teacher’s guide, and also thought up a decent hitting-the-whiteboard game which upper elementary and lower junior high kids still enjoyed.  Surprisingly, the puzzles were the real hit, and there was utter silence for minutes on end as they deciphered the bastardized IPA that they’re taught here and found the resulting spelling words.  I had some nice conversation with my Chinese teacher as we shared standardized testing experiences, and enjoyed watching my students puzzle out the crossword clues.  At one point, though it was unrelated to the work, I had to explain to Ernie that bullshit was in fact a bad word, and he should say BS or crap.

When four kids had finished (and greedily claimed their prizes of a single Werther’s), I needed to occupy them and so told Brian Chen that if he was so set on speaking Chinese in class, he could write it on the board for my benefit.  Unfortunately, I could only think of the lines I had just made him write to claim his prize (“I will speak English in English class”), and I already know how to say it.  Overall, we had some fun writing various sentences in various languages on the board, although I had to police a little when it came to Sam, the oldest kid in class.

It was a really nice end to the week, and was only improved by home calls to my junior high class and cartwheels with a few Tuesday students.  I’m looking forward to the weekend, but without any sense of oppression from the week behind, and it’s a really great feeling.


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Decidedly lowbrow

Dick jokes, everybody.  That’s where this post is headed, just so you know.

It started innocuously enough in my younger class, when I showed them an infected bug bite on my hand and they alternately recoiled and tried to fix me.  One boy Jay said, “Teacher, you have to — this — and on it, and it will okay.”

It was hard to recommend a good correction for this sentence.

As a sidebar, this is pretty typical of communication with many students: there are lots of gestures for unknown vocabulary and decent connecting language.  It could be worse!  To resume, “this” was peeing on the bite, and to drive the point home, a few other boys had to jump up and demonstrate as well, illustratively grabbing their crotches.  One added (or was it Jay again?) that his sister had told him so.

Then I had my second class which was wonderfully responsive and breezy, although I was feeling a little feverish from the room’s heater and the bug bite.  Afterward, I graded homework where I found the two gems in the pictures.

This was a translation exercise, and it should read "My little brother really doesn't like cockroaches." Suffixes are so important.

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Remember how much I loved subbing Tree House classes?  Sadly, having a class all your own is not actually better than Step Ahead, like I thought, but worse.  I hate the stupid priorities (the students erase and write corrections over spelling mistakes and grammar errors, and then I have to see it and check that it’s okay, meaning I see their start-of-class quizzes and homework books at least twice, and often three or four times for the lazy or slow ones).  There’s so much busywork to do in one class, but strangely, two hours feels like five.

From right to left, crust crackers, peanut butter and Nutella sauce, and candy and banana toppings.

What this boils down to is that I’m appreciating all my other classes more, especially the silence and calm of the junior high class.  This is not to say they’re un-animated, because they talk well enough and burst into life at break times, but they’re closer to adults and they don’t fight all the time.

On Wednesday I had a end-of-the-level party, since I had introduced the idea of dessert pizza in lesson one, and decided to follow through in the party lesson.  We discussed what goes into a pizza and what substitutions we could make, most of them coming from me and surprising and shocking them.  Peanut butter and banana together?  Peanut butter is a sweet thing?!  No, teacher, no.

In the first hour of class, we played some games and I introduced the new unit, and in the second hour, I laid out the spread and showed them how to make the sweet cracker pizza goodness.  My favorite moment was when a student wracked her brain for a moment and then said she “could deal with” peanut butter and banana.  Idiom usage!  We then played the game where you have a name on your forehead and have to guess who you are with yes or no questions.  We had Katy Perry, Obama, my co-teacher Sharon, Kelly Clarkson, and Little Pig in the class.  Overall, it was quite a success!

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Today was a good day, if I consider the start of the day to be 11:40!  I finished up a two week subbing stretch which means BANK!, plus the kids were great.  I’ll soon be finished with my own little …bunch, which I’m not too bothered about, though I think I’ll miss the original few or perhaps more accurately, the ones I consider the core class.

In other news, I saw the Hello Kitty car again today, wedged up into a parking spot I didn’t know existed in front of the PX Mart.

In other news, my Taiwanese teacher/fried food vendor now has an older buddy who has the thickest accent in the world.  I had been starting to wonder about when my ability to detect accents in Chinese would emerge (beyond the most basic this is Beijing and this is Taiwan), but I’ve totally got it down with this guy.  Half of his words sounded like he was speaking Taiwanese!  He was very helpful, but food words don’t get you far with building useful grammatical sentences.  I really want to buy this Taiwanese book, but I haven’t had the money or the time to get into Taipei and find these people.  Maybe next weekend!

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All mine

In just a week, I’ll have a tiny kindergarten class all to myself.  There will be four students whose parents want extra prep for their kids (or need the little boogers in daycare sooner than August), and since I have a Chinese-speaking homeroom teacher, we’ll have a teacher-student ratio of 1:2.  That is pretty awesome, I must say.

I am quite excited, and I hope I get to name them.  I had some input on renaming one of my younger students who was going by Feifei (pronounced Fifi), but that was initiated by the Chinese teacher, not me.  She’s now Sophia, by the way, which is far more dignified, suitable, and appealing.  Go team me, CT, and Sophia’s mom!

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A class above

Yesterday, I took a class for a friend that’s different in every way from the ones I usually teach.  It’s got a spacious classroom, the English teacher teaches every class, and the classes are three or four times a week instead of being only twice.  The difference in English level is remarkable, but I think the main thing about the particular kids I had yesterday was how well-behaved and sweet they were, as well as how smart.

We reviewed for a quiz, and once they had finished, I graded them and let the kids read from the bookshelf.  Everyone sat around the walls and read silently or quietly with a friend and seemed truly engrossed.  I was thrilled, since I love seeing kids enjoy reading!  Everyone got 100 on the quiz, so instead of making them hang around the classroom quietly, I took them out to the indoors play area and they ran around and played ghost tag and then freeze tag for about 10 minutes.  They chose me for It after I proposed freeze tag (I didn’t want them getting bored!), and let me tell you, running in socks is hard!  I didn’t have any success until I took them off and also roped some of my students from one of my favorite classes into helping me.

Then I gave them their real break time to sit and read and drink water, after which they did a crossword and then the homework.  It was the easiest $30 of my life, aside from birthday money.

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I love Tuesdays.

I used to despair over my earlier Tuesday class (earlier generally means both younger and earlier in the day, although my Tuesday classes are about the same grade level for the most part), but then I got a new student who brings up everyone around her and the serious ADD kid is coming under control.  I started playing more active games in that class to get some energy out, and it’s especially appropriate because we’re learning about outdoor activities (snorkeling, surfing, playing hockey, ice skating… parascending?!) and it’s fun to act them out as they learn.

The later class I’ve liked from the start, or at least from the day they were Team Superman and Team Joker.  They are full of energy in the best possible way, and seem to have decent English.  My co-teacher in this class rules with an iron fist, so I always grade well-spaced and tidily written homework (for the most part), although when she subbed in for the earlier class’s CT, I was not as impressed with her work.  I think she does better with the higher levels… or she was having a bit of the same shock I had with my early class!  To be fair, they did abysmally on an assessment (vocab is their strong suit, verb conjugation is not).

One of my favorite kids in the later class is named Ernie, and he’s the one who always advocates for superhero/villain team names.  After one of my first classes with his group, he showed me his Batman sandals and I was appropriately complimentary.  When this class had oral tests recently, I decided to wear my Batman shirt, which he used to ask me a great question when it was his turn: “Do you like ….the… Do you like adventure movies?”  I was very pleased, and apparently he was too, since now, whenever I see him outside class, he shoots me with some finger weapon.  Today, I introduced him to grenades by throwing one to him and killing him.  When he recovered, he followed me to the office and asked, “Teacher, what’s this?” [mimed hand grenade].  What a fun mini-lesson to be able to say, “That’s a grenade, Ernie.  You pull the pin and BOOM!”

He learns quickly, because he dodged the next one I threw him and let it take out Teacher Jennifer and the copier.

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