Friday, August 11, 2006

So far so why am I nervous?

The first full day of school is now officially past us.

And it really wasn't so bad.

Oh yeah, we had the usual roster changes, and new kids who weren't enrolled in time showing up, and then some more class switching, but overall it wasn't too bad. The new lunchroom arrangement caused some problems, but it was livable. I had been hearing that this was a nice group of kids coming up, and I'm beginning to believe it. Mr. Social Studies and I were both commenting that no one kid stood out with a neon sign that read "I'm going to be your biggest nightmare this year!" This is a good thing. Last year I was able to tell by the first day who was going to be disrupting my sleep patterns.

Of course, they could just be planning to surprise us next week.

This is not to say that they're perfect. They aren't. My 5th period wants to talk constantly and is, in fact, the only class I've had to get cranky at. Most of my other classes are fairly quiet. For now.

Or perhaps that's because they're shell-shocked. The first few days we throw a lot at them - all the required school paperwork to be completed and signed, lab rules, syllabus, state standards, etc. I probably do more talking in the first day of school than I ever end up doing again. But's it's the stuff you have to get through in order to get to the fun stuff.

I did get a new student today, who was originally on Mrs. Eagle's team, who does not speak a word of English. They gave him to me because his cousin, who's been here a bit longer, speaks it well enough to figure out what's going on and they thought it would be a good idea to keep them together since we have a part-time ELL teacher and no one to translate most of the time. My Spanish is not that good (my husband is close to fluent having lived in South America for a few years so I may have to drag him in one day), but I was able to tell my guys, in Spanish, that I speak it a little and very badly. They thought that was pretty funny. Besides the cousins there's another boy from Panama who's a Spanish speaker, but he's been here a few years and his English is pretty good. So basically I have one lab table that's speaking Spanish and translating (which is, honestly, quite distracting) and the rest are, we hope, able to figure out what's going on.

Apparently there's a sixth grader in the building who speaks nothing but Thai. Korean we could have handled fairly well (a number of our students are part Korean, seeing as we're in a military town), but Thai leaves us at a loss. Poor kid. He's absolutely adorable though so I'm sure all the girls are going to fall in love with him.

For those of you who've been loyal readers for the past year...some of your favorite characters have been by to say hello and demand a hug. Goth Girl (who's hair is a lovely shade of black) has been by, Stoopid Boy has been by at least three times along with Stoner Boy who's busy telling me about the new songs he's working at on the guitar. I've also seen Fabio Boy a few times. All the kids are way taller than they were two months ago and some of them have really, really sprouted. One fellow I haven't seen, but who's here because Mrs. Cool has him (lucky girl) is Poop Boy. There are small favors in the world.

As for the new cast of may take a few more days to get to know the kids but I can tell there's a few you'll be hearing about shortly.

Just give them time.


NYC Educator said...

Students who have no one to talk to are often highly motivated to learn English. Also, it's a distinct advantage to not have a large group of friends who speak your first language while you're trying to acquire another one.

Put yourself in their shoes. If the two of us are sitting in a classroom in China, who are we gonna talk to? The Chinese or each other?

Remove one of us and we have no choice but to get out there and learn Chinese. Kids want to mix with other kids and will do what it takes to do so.

One thing it takes, though, is time, and no one from Margaret Spellings on down seems to understand that. They all tell the stories about how their grandparents came here with no English and made a million dollars.

They didn't do it in five minutes, though.

Anonymous said...

I'm worried about Poop Boy again this year... he's turning a lot of his self-doubt inward and losing his naive optimism... I fear that one day he'll be one of the ones we wish we had just given a little more time to. -gg