Friday, March 10, 2006

Week Ending

I continue to work with the teachers of the highest performing 8th graders to recruit kids for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Starting with 1 student adequately prepared and motivated four years ago, we are looking to have around a dozen students accepted for the next school year. This includes a number of young siblings of existing students, which has really strengthened our recruiting efforts. The part that's just really floating my boat is the claims that this particular IB school is being flexible in language grouping. In IB, students are required to take a literature class and a language (learning) class, but does not specify which language needs to go where. We have some kids who were extremely well-educated in their primary language, and if they can continue to study in that language at a high level, well simultaneously studying English in IB's rigorous and demanding way, that has opened myriad doors of opportunity for those students.

We hosted a high school fair earlier in the week, with magnet schools and those charter high schools that are not blatantly failing. IB came, and the next day I discussed the program and application process with as a follow-up at lunch. I felt dumb talking to these kids, and they were giving me some weird looks, because I'm just not used to interacting with students who 1) Speak fluent English; 2) understand everything I say instantly; 3) process the information I provide and begin using it as a foundation to develop new questions and insights. It's like I've lost some fundamental ability to converse intelligently and provide information at another other than a snail's pace. At one point I said, "I'm talking too slowly and repeating myself too much, huh?"

And they all nodded.

Honor Society Night saw a packed house and another successful program. I get freaked out by the kids who say, "I'm not supposed to be on the 3.5 honor roll. I got a B+ in Algebra. I didn't mean it. I'm not supposed to be here." I nod and say I understand and ask them to take a deep breath. "I won't be here next quarter," they say. "I'll do better." It will all be okay, I say, just relax.

Sixty kids were redesignated as fluent English speakers, which makes everyone get those warm fuzzys, because it carries with it the opportunity to be on "college track" in high school, taking real classes. You watch the kids come up to get their redesignation certificate, and it's a bizarre collection of the kids who've been speaking English for 2-3 years and a realizing a culmination of tremendous effort and success, and these kids who have been fluent for far longer than you've been a teacher, it's just nobody bothered to fill out the paperwork for redesignation before.

D. (yesterday): Is Saturday Academy at 8:30 or 9:30?

ME: There is no Saturday Academy this week.

D. (shaking his head slowly and thoughtfully): Dude.* That's just weird.

*I think it's quite possible, that along with critical academic vocabulary like support, describe, explain, analyze, compare, contrast, and justify, I have also taught this student the word "dude."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One time I said "dude" to a student in the classroom, and the entire class fell silent and stared at me.

"How do you know that word?"

(I was only 26 at the time, but I already learned to accept my new-found status as a geezer.)

12:15 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Try being a fluffy 40-ish woman and saying little slangy words in a Ben Stein-ish voice. It is very amusing. They certainly sit up and pay attention to see what you will do next.....

4:04 PM  
Blogger 100farmers said...

The first time I used the word "tight" to describe something at home, my pre-teen son looked at me as if I'd grown horns and informed me that I was never, ever to use that word again. Sometimes I think my kids at school influence me waaaaay more than I influence them.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Mrs. N said...

Yeah, I've been using "hella" at home, and my husband shapes his head. I told students that "hella" is an intensifier (like "very" and "extremely") and they laughed out loud. I'm realizing that even though I just turned 30, I was an old fart the minute I walked into the classroom as a teacher.

3:34 PM  

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