Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yesterday's Class

You know, if you read the papers, you probably think teachers hold up hoops for kids to jump through, and throw them fish if they make it through 90% of the time or higher. But alas, high test scores are not the fondest memories in anyone's class.

In my class, we were reviewing past tense and present perfect via stories about the Olympics. The article I was using placed great emphasis on American and Canadian champions, as it came from an ESL book designed to sell in those markets. Naturally, I bragged about how wonderful our Olympic champs were, as though I had anything remotely to do with our success. Some of my Chinese students protested that they had champs too.

"Who?" I asked, but none of the kids could name one. They made me take out my iPad and look it up. I found a 15-year-old female gold medal recipient named Ye Shiwen. When the kids pronounced her name, it sounded a great deal like, "Yeah, she won," so we got a lot of mileage out of that. It's very gratifying to see my beginning students so amused by wordplay.

Later, some of them returned to my later class rather than go to lunch. The trailer I'm in during the afternoon has functional AC and the lunchroom is a veritable hellhole. How could I send them to suffer, after they baked in my trailer with no AC during the AM.

During the break between classes, one of the girls who showed up started playing with an iPhone. I was kind of surprised she had it. She's kind of shy, and I don't usually give her a hard time about anything. But at that moment, I said, "You know, I don't understand why you have an iPhone and I don't. I mean, I have a job, I have a car, and all sorts of stuff, and I've just got this crappy phone. It doesn't seem right to me."

She smiled and said, "Well, it's OK. My sister bought me this phone, and she has a job, so you don't have to worry."

She put me in my place and all was right with the world again.
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