And Spanish kids, even more so.
Many years ago, when I was still in school at Longwood University, I declared my major- English. And every single person I met asked, “You’re going to be a teacher, right?” Because what else can you do with a major like that? (Trust me, I’m still figuring it out.) My response, again and again, was, “No, never. I will never be a teacher.”
Irony strikes again.
But I will say this, teaching has its ups and downs. There are good days, great days, horrible days, and, more often here, hilarious days. Because these kids have no filters and they also don’t understand what I’m trying to tell them half the time.
I thought I would share some of my favorites as acquired over these last few months.
- My third graders love my jewelry. But mostly my rings. They are obsessed with my rings. And when I wear more than one, I always, always get this, “You have four boyfriends? They are from your four boyfriends?” Four rings= four boyfriends. “Que suerte.”
- Your hairstyle will always invoke a comment or question. The other day a teacher friend wore her hair up in a messy bun. “You have a nest on your head. But where are the birds?”
- Sarcasm is my go-to, especially when the children are driving me insane. The issue here is that no one understands the sarcasm. Example: “What are some words that have the ‘sh’ sound?” “Oh, yo, yo! Shut-up. Shut-up!” Raises eyebrows and glances at the teacher, “Yes, you probably get that a lot don’t you?” Dead silence. Confused faces. The teacher snorts. “Yes, yes, shut-up. Very good, that has the 'sh' sound in it.” #facepalm
- My appearance into classes is on the same level as their love for pizza. (This one has to be explained. The children here love pizza. Show them a picture of pizza- they freak out. Tell them your favorite food is pizza- screaming and excited shouts ensue. Bring them pizza- haven’t tried this one yet because I can just imagine.) But pretty much without fail, my arrival is met with chatter and shrieks of delight. Sometimes a giant mosh-pit of children swarming me for a hug. It always brings a smile to my face until I literally can’t get them to sit down and be quiet. Then I wish I wasn’t so awesome.
- The young kids under six cannot keep their hands to themselves. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ll be sitting, the children on the floor around me, telling a story. Without fail there will be two sets of hands on me at all times. Touching my shoes, clasped onto my legs, hands resting on my knees, a few tugging at my sleeves… Every few minutes I will take the time to remove said hands, scoot them back, and tell them, but don’t touch me, though. Breathe in, breathe out. A hand snakes around my boot…
- Every day is a new competition between a boy and his classmates. Who can be the loudest, who can hug the teacher the most, who can do his work the fastest (though the correct part seems unimportant.) Children have the healthiest lungs I’ve ever heard and I very rarely can compete.
- Whenever you play “Let It Go” from Frozen you are guaranteed this reaction- shrieks from the girls as they know it word for word in English. And horrendous booing from the boys as they shout and scream with their hands over their ears. Aka, don’t play “Let It Go.”
- What is the one thing you have always wanted as a gift? A piece of paper, you say? Well you are in luck because that is a child's favorite thing to give! Folded origami’s, paper cut-outs, drawings, a scrap with a flower on it, a full-blown drawing of the alphabet… I have never had so many little pieces of paper in my bag as I do now. And God forbid you forget it or throw it away. They will hunt you down. They will find you. And when they do they will put it back in your hand and say in earnest with wide eyes, “But I made it for you.” (And only later do you note the scribbled out name of another teacher on the back.)
- I’ve had older students drop the f-bomb so casually. The first time it happened, I didn’t even know how to properly react. “What did you just say?” “F*** this.” Eyebrows go up. “Um, why would you use that word?” “I don’t know, because I don’t want to do this.” Tilt of the head. “Then say ‘I don’t want to do this.'” It’s a hard line because curse words change where you are in the world. In Spain, saying joder (which means f***) is very common. You’ll hear a teacher say it, a child, a parent. It’s the equivalent of “crap” or “damn” in America. So there you have it.
- The other day I had to walk into the cafeteria (here called the ‘canteen‘) to borrow a spoon. Another teacher friend went with me, saying sometimes the children can be a bit loud. Key word bit. I imagine perhaps celebrities feel this way, like the room is closing in and the shouting reaches a crescendo that you’re sure your ears are going to cave in. The canteen full of children I teach went nuts. I mean like children screaming both our names, standing on their chairs, waving, competing for our attention, whistling… I’ve never run out of a room so fast in my life. And just seconds later three teacher whistles started up and all of the children got in trouble. I felt bad for a hot second before myself and the other teacher burst out laughing in shock.
- The other day a student had to have a talk because he drew his teacher naked. ‘Nough said.
I’m sure there are many more I’m missing, but these are the ones that I’ve encountered thus far that stick out. I have no experience teaching in the states, but I do wonder how this list compares.
Happy Belated Valentines Day. Yesterday we celebrated by learning about the Saint ( a bloody story at best and a stretch on the whole love thing) and playing games with hearts. It’s always fun to celebrate holidays here, especially ones where they do things differently then in the States.
My two most common phrases and gestures. “Sit down.” (which you can see from this picture works quite well.)
And, “Be quiet.”