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Top 6 Off-Track & On-Track Behaviors

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tonight I launched my high school elective English class, a group of seven self-motivated students– a dream!  But for the most part, I am co-teaching classes of twenty-five or thirty students, with all the pedagogical and management challenges that entails: How do I address the hugely divergent levels?  What to do about the behavior problems?  I am never bored.  I could dissolve in frustration, or I could laugh.  Let me explain:

Top 6 Off-Track Behaviors:

1) “Matamos el argentino!” (We kill the Argentine!) A third grader (who often roams around the classroom throwing paper airplanes) once threatened to kill a fellow classmate because he is from Argentina.

2) “Weee!” First grade students who spin their Batman or Disney princess pencil cases around on marker.

3) “Tía habla español!  Profe no entiendo nada!!!!!” (“Speak Spanish!  I don’t understand anything!”) I love this one because (as I have pointed out), if you are screaming while I am talking, it is guaranteed that you won’t understand me, even if I’m speaking in Spanish.  You can’t even hear me!

4) “Usted tiene facebook?” (“Do you have facebook?”)

5) “Pero profe, me siento solito allá!” (But teacher, I feel all alone over there!) Of all the commonplace high school pololeando [acting like boyfriend-girlfriend: holding hands under the table, playing with each other’s hair, etc.], this is my favorite example: A male junior sat down on the lap of two girls, and when redirected to his own seat (I do this silently, with eyes and motions, since he knows exactly what I am saying without any language barrier to hide behind: Are you serious?  Get it together, sit in your own chair, canoodle after class), he complained, “But I feel all alone over there.”

6) “BAFFROOM!  BAFFROOM!” The first graders have mastered this crucial vocabulary word, but now seem to be under the impression that whoever screams “bathroom” loudest is permitted to go to the bathroom: we are working on this one.

Top 6 On-Track Behaviors:

1) “Thirteen!  Thirteen!” Sophomore boy calling out the number he hoped would be drawn for bingo so he could win.  This is a student whose face typically says, “I dare you to make me care.”  Well, it turns out we got him to care with bingo.

2) “Tía, no– Miss, My name is bathroom?” A third grade student, with a face of extreme concentration, confusing the two most important phrases he knows: “My name is ______” and “Can I please go to the bathroom?”

3) “Boooooo!  Boooooo!” A kindergarden student who, once repeating the color “blue”, was delighted to know he got the right answer, and proceeded to respond “blue” to every question asked for the rest of the class: yellow card, “Boooo!”, red card, “Boooo!”, happy face, “Boooo!”, sad face, “Booo!”.

4) “My favorite number is twelve.” After an arduous lesson on the phrase, “What’s your favorite color?  My favorite color is _______.” with the fourth grade, I asked one student who had finished her work quickly, “What’s your favorite number”, and she formed the full response with no prompting.

5) “Nope!” The high school freshman have been pretty engaged by studying dialogues, (we listen, read, explain, practice, perform), particularly if they have to do with crushes, dating, and break-ups (see below).  One boy thinks hearing me say the word, “Nooooope” — “De nuevo!  Usted lo hace!” (again!  you do it!) is the funniest thing he’s ever heard.  When I see him outside of school, I say, “Hola, A*****”, and he replies, “Noooope!” with a grin.

6) “Yellow!” In the rural schools, where my co-teacher and I manage a classroom of ten first- through sixth grade students, I was playing a game with the two first graders: we took turns closing our eyes, reaching into a box of colored pencils, and then saying the color we drew.  To my delight, when I left them to go check in on the older students, the two first graders kept quizzing each other.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. David Russell permalink
    Thursday, April 14, 2011 3:55 am

    Ah, the joys and frustrations of teaching. Your illustrations put us in your classroom, and you are doing very well navigating these choppy waters. I am proud of you.

  2. Eliza permalink
    Saturday, April 16, 2011 10:34 pm

    “Get it together.”


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