Well folks, it's real! I'm here. In DC. Teaching. We have had a whirlwind of a time since we've been here. We've been in the schools for 2 1/2 weeks and I have new funny stories to share every single day from our kids, our teachers, our administrators, you name it. Here is a little sampling of some of my most unforgettable moments in the classroom thus far. Mind you, this is just a small portion of what we have experienced up til now, but there are some gems.
- Our mentor teacher's name is Ms. Wickersham, but the kids all know her as "MIZ WIKASHAM!" and let me tell you, this woman has ATTITUDE. It must be something that just comes eventually when you teach in this setting but this white, middle-aged woman can keep up with the best of our thugs and divas. Today, after confronting one student about not coming in at lunch to work on her project like she was supposed to, Ms. Wickersham received attitude and a pretty dramatic eye roll from said student. She went after her, backed her (literally) into a corner, and said, "Erica, when are you gonna learn. I am older than you, bigger than you, uglier than you, and yes, I WILL jack you up!" Yes, that is a direct quote. Of course, there is always a very subtle tone of joking when things like this are said but still, these kids know not to cross the line with Miz Wikasham.
- On our first day, we were standing outside the classroom talking to Ms. Wickersham when another student, Lali, yelled from the back of the classroom, "Who are THEY?!" obviously talking about the two new white girls speaking to their teacher. Ms. Wickersham didn't even miss a beat before yelling, "Oh I KNOW you did not just say 'who are they!'" Seeing her mistake, Lali swallowed her attitude and in her sweetest voice, replied, "I mean, who are those pretty ladies Miz Wikasham?"
- When Josh, one of our craziest kids, couldn't remember my name one of our first mornings there, he just looked at me confused for a minute and said, "Miz Puchi...? Cabuchi...? Oh I know, Miz Cheeto!" Needless to say, I gave up on the kids trying to learn Ms. Trujillo. I am now Miz T. Although Josh still calls me Miz Cheeto.
- One day one of our girls came in after school to work on a project involving Shiva, one of the Hindu deities. Her task was to think of popular song titles that illustrate the traits of this particular deity. From across the room she shouted out, "Isn't that da one dat's half man half woman?" When I said yes, she said, "Well, I'm gonna pick dat one song by Katy Perry. You know, dat one dat's like 'ya hot then yo cold, ya yes then yo no. It works because Shiva, she don know what ta do wit he'self!"
- While having a class discussion on Buddhism which was in no way related to sexual intimacy, one girl asked, "What if you a Buddhist and ya have sex a lot? Is that bad?" When Ms. Wickersham said, "Yes, Domonique, that's bad," Dom replied, "But what if ya not married?"
- One day two kids were running down the hall being completely out of control (which in this school is UNACCEPTABLE) and Courtney, my roommate that I team-teach with in Ms. Wickersham's classroom, ended up catching them both by the arm and dragging them back to the teacher that would discipline them. One of our boys witnessed the catch and said, "Man, Miz Hruby, you're startin' ta get the hang a' this teacher thing."
- One of the things I think I'm going to learn before I leave this place is how to be stern with the kids when I need to. In all my teaching experience up til now, I always really wanted the kids to like me. I still do, naturally, but I am also learning that if the kids call me mean every once in awhile, that's more of a compliment than an insult. It means that I'm pushing them past where they want to be and that I'm choosing to care about that more than being liked by them. My roommate mastered this right away in our classroom but it's taken me a few weeks to be able to push past that need to be liked. It's a work in progress but I'm learning. The other day I told Rashaad with a little attitude of my own that if he'd stop talking during warm-up, he'd actually understand what was going on in class. His response was, "Man, i thoughtchoo wa' da nice one." Win.
- Just a few days later, the kids were working on projects using laptops in the classroom. One boy, Jason, was using his computer to play games, take pictures, change his password a kajillion times, anything other than what he was supposed to be doing. I'd already gotten after him a few times with no results. I finally came and stood right behind him and stayed there, arms folded, looking at him. Feeling extremely uncomfortable, he kept telling me to go away. When I gave no response but to look at him with the look, he decided to be clever and funny, changing his password one final time to "ihatethewomanstandingbehindme" which he said out loud to the kids around him. A few of them snickered nervously and looked at me, maybe wondering if I was going to break. I stayed there and said, "so be it." Jason's next move was pulling up his project to work on it.
- For the most part, the kids have a LOT of attitude with each other but give us very little of the nasty stuff. But man is it funny to watch them interact. One dirty look requires an entire body roll to get the full effect. Sometimes I don't even understand the slang they use with each other.
- As far as other adults in the school go, we have some winners. Ms. Hernandez is the guidance counselor for the seventh grade and she may be the sweetest creature I have ever met. She is probably 4'10" and 100 lbs. soaking wet. She's Hispanic with a thick little accent and she loves chatting with us. The other day, she told us, "Oh, I tried to make a joke today to da keedz, and I thought it would be so funny. They were doing make-up work and I said, ' It's make-up time, but not like estee lauder!' But no one laughed! I should have said Bonnebelle or something. Oh well, next time I guess." And then she just laughed and walked out. Haha, love her.
- Among the adults in the school, we also have the scariest vice principal known to man. He is a middle-aged black man with a BOOMING voice. He is so nice to us and the rest of the faculty but he is the kids' worst nightmare. For some of them, he may be the only person in their life that they are truly scared of. This is just one of the several instances I have heard him giving a whooping to a badly-behaved kid. From what I can remember, it went something like this: "Now WHY were you outside?! Boy, you LOOK at me when I'm talkin to you! You go downstairs and you think of a good answer to that question. You just wasted a minute and 27 seconds of my life that I am never gonna get back." After the boy leaves, he turns to Ms. Wickersham and says (still fairly loudly and within earshot of the kid) "I thought you said he was smart."
Well, that's probably about enough for now. Man, these kids are HILARIOUS. Every day in our classroom is a new adventure. I love every single second of it.