Friday, September 05, 2014

The Best Thing That Happened Yesterday

Yesterday was the first day of class. I was nervous, the kids were nervous, but we all did the best we could. First day programming is always problematic. I teach beginning ESL and several of my kids turned out to have been born here.

In my afternoon class, one girl got pretty upset about this. She asked me to send her to the dean. "Do you know the deans?" I asked. She said, "No. I'm just always friendly with the deans." "But I have no reason to send you there," I said. She said, "Just tell them I made a lot of trouble." "I don't do that,"  I told her.  I told her I would get her out, that it could take a few days, and that she didn't have to do the homework if she didn't want to.

I tried calling some people who weren't there, and I even tried sending her down to the overwhelmed guidance department, but no one could help her yesterday. In my class we were doing interviews after I drilled them in the questions they would need. The girl was bored out of her mind as we modeled the questions. She tried to sit in the back and I dragged her back up front. She put her head down for a moment to see if I'd scream at her to pick it up.

But a while later, another girl came in, a girl who could barely squeak out a word of English. By then I was introducing the interviews. I asked if she could help the shy new girl and my sullen student smiled and said, "What a great way to make friends."

She helped the newcomer, who got through the assignment. She asked if I would give her a good grade if she did it too.  I said sure I would. Then she asked if that grade would follow her to a new class. I told her I was sorry but I didn't think so. Then she asked me why I couldn't just lie to her. I told her I could, but that it wouldn't change anything.

Then kids started writing a paragraph about their partners, I walked around correcting things,  and I gave them the unspeakable assignment of rewriting the paragraph.

But the best thing that happened to me yesterday was seeing that girl come to life. I hope to see a lot of that this year.
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