You hear many teachers talk about the kids that won’t shut up. Often the non-teachers, though, don’t realize what’s infinitely worse: the students who won’t talk. All of you educators know exactly what I’m talking about.
Tuesday was the first day of school, and my first period class walked into the room. Very quietly. 7th grade English had commenced.
Clarification: Actually, they filed into the room (very quietly), after having lined up outside my door in an orderly fashion and greeting me with a handshake and a “hello Miss Lauren” on the way in. These kids are far better behaved than I am.
Side note: if you just want to read the awesome things kids say, skip to the bottom.
So my students file into the room, sit down in their chairs, and proceed to say nothing. We only had 20 minutes to fill on the first day, and each moment still seemed to drag slowly through the barren silence. This was my first day of teaching the first day of school (reread that and it will make sense, I promise. Teaching the first day of school is drastically different from teaching the rest of the days of school.), and their first day of senior school. None of us knew exactly how to make things comfortable.
The following day was slightly better – I got them to answer a few more questions, talked about procedures, and decided that we were going to play “Two Truths and a Lie” as our get-to-know-you activity. I asked if there were any volunteers, and was met by an impressive lack of eye contact, punctuated by the groans of the students that I chose. However, they respectfully delivered their phrases as I had requested.
Today was a bit different.
After discussing a few more classroom rules and their independent reading, I announced that we were going to continue our game. Students again diverted their eyes, becoming suddenly engrossed in the floor tiles or agendas. As we continued, though, students became more and more animated. Truths and lies sparked other stories, and soon the students were clamoring to stake claim on the next story slot. Eager hands were raised, visually accompanying the verbal “Miss Lauren, Miss Lauren!” I took the time to add stories of my own, as well. I’m really not a great storyteller (at all), but I forsook my pride to be animated, and seventh graders are easily entertained.
The highlight of my day (Actually, the second highlight. The first came earlier in the day when my students were working with partners, engrossed in conversation. My co-teacher and I found a bomb-timer online, turned the speakers up full blast, and watched 25 children jump three feet out of their desks when it went off. It was fantastic.) was toward the end of the class, when the loud speaker droned “pardon the interruption..” The students protested the announcements, and, as soon as it was over, informed me that “MISS, THERE ARE STILL FOUR MINUTES LEFT IN CLASS – WE CAN KEEP GOING!!”
Teacher Lesson Learned: One of the things that is most terrifying for students, especially when they’re not being educated in their native tongue, is being put on the spot in front of the class. My middle schoolers are at this crazy stage in life; they’re figuring out who they are, and the idea of messing it up in front of everyone is daunting. Spending this time today, which may have looked like precious time wasted to many, was the most valuable thing that we’ve done thus far. The students are no longer so scared to speak up, the classroom is less menacing, and we have created memories together. I took the time to talk to the students about the fact that, in the real world, they probably won’t be writing many essays, but they will likely be speaking in front of people. This is why it’s so vital to practice this in class.
This is the part you should read if you just want the funny stuff:
There were many hilarious truths, lies, and unrelated stories offered up by my group of twenty-four twelve-year-olds today. I was in tears due to an excessive amount of laughter. Here are a few of the more memorable (true!) ones:
“My family intentionally locked me in war tunnels in Vietnam.”
“My bunny jumped out my apartment window.”
“What floor do you live on?”
“My hamsters accidentally killed themselves.”
“I’ve knocked out four of my [twin] brother’s teeth!”
“I rode an ostrich.”
“I ran into a car.”
“Did you run into the car, or did the car run into you?”
“I ran into the car.”
Of course, you have to read these all with an accent and imagine pudgy asian kids saying them. Think the kid in the movie Up. I should’ve written them down as we talked; I know I’ve forgotten many. More to come!