Wednesday, November 10, 2010

back on the beat

Having stayed home resting yesterday, I went in to teach my three classes today. I'm definitely feeling stronger, and the day off was a good idea. Those three classes are so different.

1-C - These guys are just so unbelievably nice. They're calm, patient, smart, sweet-tempered kids. I had a pretty half-assed lesson plan, but it never matters because we just like each other, so it's no problem to just hang out for however long. And we had fun even with the lame directions game I made up.

1-G - I figured this group would be a harder sell, and they sort of were. They're a lot calmer now that Samuel and Marcelo got kicked out of school for fighting each other. (I asked what happened. Apparently Samuel spelled guerra ["war"] as gerra in some context, and Marcelo started making fun of him for it, including asking the teacher what gerra meant, and some other kind of mockery I didn't understand. Samuel clocked him, and the rest is history.)

I told them to stand up, and about half the class stayed seated; I tried for about 10 seconds, then shrugged, said "Okay," and sat down at my table and started peacefully reading my book. This confused them.
"Are you angry?"
"Nope. I was really sick all last week and I still don't feel great. I have 9 days left here. If you guys don't want to do the thing, I'm not going to fight you."
A couple of kids asked me to keep teaching, but I decided to continue on with the chosen course. I had some nice conversations with smaller groups of kids, and I spent a lot of the time making them laugh (which also amuses me), with all sorts of strange behaviors they've never seen before, certainly not from a teacher.

I explained cognates and false cognates to one group I was talking to. They got a kick out of a couple of the best false cognates: embarasada is "pregnant," preñada is "pregnant" but only used for animals, and perhaps best of all--and let me tell you, embarasada is hard to beat--is excitado, which one might think is "excited" but actually means "horny." (You probably want emocionado.)

1-H - These guys. I did the review for their test next week. They weren't terribly interested. I tried to make sure they knew that they have to actually understand the words they learn, in order to pass the test. Instead of writing stuff in their notebooks, most of them took pictures of the whiteboard with their cell phones. We finished in a half hour and then it was herding cats inside the classroom for 30 minutes. Nice to reconnect with them, though. Well, sort of. They don't sit still long enough for much connecting.

To be clear, I have no teaching energy left. I realize that many times in our lives we strive and work and we discover our limits and we surpass them--see Outward Bound, my black belt test, various other things--and I passed that point a few months ago. So now I'm navigating the experience of being utterly mentally exhausted.

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