Monday, March 31, 2008

Apparently, today was Controversy Day in my classroom

The novel the class is reading had a part in it about a rampaging ox. The kiddos weren't entirely sure what an ox was. I told them. They asked if it was the same as a toro and I said no, they were neutered. So of course they asked what neuter means. Then they asked what testicles were. Sometimes I'm really glad that the administration doesn't pop in randomly.

Later, one of the kids asked what racism is. The class consensus was that they all had some vague idea, but didn't really know for certain. Some of the kids thought that racism was using the n word. Of course, several of them (remember, bilingual class, first year in English) didn't know what the n word was-- and this is where I hesitated. But I answered. One of the girls raised her hand and said, as she was cringing back into her desk with embarrassment, "Ms. G├╝erita, I'm not trying to be rude, but what does nigger mean?" This whole discussion was making my skin crawl in a way that the testicle talk ever could. I told her that it was a word that has been used for many, many years as a weapon to hurt African Americans (the kids were using that phrase at this point, so I stayed with it), and that it was very hard to give it a specific meaning. THEN one of the kids asked why it was okay for African Americans to call each other the n word, but it was bad for someone else to. One of my boys said he felt like he understood that, but he couldn't put it in words. I let them talk amongst themselves about it, then I told them that that question was very controversial, and that people from every race disagreed about it, including blacks. Then I asked them how they'd feel if a white person came up to them and said, "What's up, raza?" (Yes, J, this one is dedicated to you!) That got several pairs of eyes narrowing, then lighting up. Then we had to get back to prefixes and suffixes.

They did ask me if we could find some reading materials with a racism theme, so if you can think of anything appropriate for late elementary students (non-fiction, novels, short stories, graphic novels, anything), then put it in the comments.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Classroom, the Dadaist Theater

Today was out of control, non-stop silly.

I've been very hoarse, so my student teacher has taken over teaching a little early so I don't fuck up my voice any further. So this is the rundown of today:

1. Within 5 minutes of the kiddos coming into the classroom, one of my Special Super Sweethearts, Suly, started singing a song I didn't recognize about killing all the teachers. I could tell it was more something stuck in her head rather than any actual hostility or naughtiness. Well, perhaps some naughtiness. Anyway, she had the trashcan next to her seat, so I walked over, casually picked up both her feet, and deposited them in the trashcan. She immediately quit singing and nearly fell out of her chair laughing.

2. My student teacher was picking on me, telling the kids that they should pester me all day because I can't talk back. So I picked up the conduct sheet and added the student teacher's name to it and a list of her offenses. Mute teacher strikes back!

3. Student teacher was complaining about something or other while her back was to me. My computer monitor is hooked up to a tv screen above my desk. A few moments with google image search, and I put the crybaby image on this post on my screen. I pointed at baby, then at student teacher. Hilarity ensued. I suspect she will attempt retribution. I'm ready.

4. There was a turtle in the classroom. Or rather, there was not a turtle. I refuse to acknowledge this creature's existence. The turtle IS. NOT. THERE.

5. Something else that is not there: food in my classroom. Our lunchtime is ridiculously early, so everyone is hungry by the afternoon. I eat, they eat, I ignore it until they don't pick up their trash. So now and then they will tattle on each other for eating (usually when they want what the other person is eating) and I just look at them blankly and change the subject.

I can't believe how happy they were to see me after the break. I already knew I'd be happy to see them. And I was.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One Hurdle Jumped

The writing test is done. There were no obvious disasters. I was on my feet eight hours. I am tired as shit.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Tomorrow is the first major standardized test of the school year. It's the writing test, which is unique to 4th grade. I want to write more, but I have a headache and my asthma is bothering me. I guess this is what they call stress.

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