Friday, March 17, 2006

My First, True, Elementary Classroom Anecdote

The first year I taught elementary school, I looked forward to one of those cute moments you hear about that happens in elementary classroom when kids say the darndest things. I have since discovered that many of them that people hear or read about are made up stories, or are jokes turned into alleged elementary classroom reality. My first real one happened the first week of school.

My second grade class was having a “sharing time.” I think that’s an absurd expression I don’t use in front of the kids because I don’t want to denigrate that most wonderful word, sharing. Sharing is giving someone what is yours because hogging it for yourself is just so…………………………………..…selfish. But that’s the expression teachers use nowadays. “Do you have anything you want to ‘share’ with us, Robert?” What this means is that Robert is going to talk about himself until his classmates' faces glaze over and you beg Robert to stop because you can no longer understand what in tarnation he's talking about, and Robert can't tell you either, and everyone listening is long past even caring. How can that be “sharing?” I want him to share his homemade cookies with me. But I digress.
We were in the middle of a “sharing time” in class, and I had chosen one of those special topics that can lead to a real bonding moment when we learn about each other and get used to talking to our new classmates. One of my students, Gabrielle, was called on to tell about her summer vacation.
Gabrielle went to the front of the classroom and cheerfully told everyone, “My sister got married. We had a wonderful time. We rented a hall, and there was dancing, and it was a lot of fun. I got to stay up late and party.”
Jordan, one of the other girls in the class, raised her hand. Gabrielle kept talking. “There was a band and so everybody danced and there was cake and punch.”
Jordan’s hand stayed up, and by now there is obviously a confused look on her face. I was curious, so I said, “Yes, Jordan? Do you have a question for Gabrielle?”
“Yeah, I do. Why was everybody dancing?”
Gabrielle said, “Because there was a band.”
“Oh. Ok. Well, what was the cake for?”
“So everybody could have some cake.”
“Was it like a party?”
By this time I am becoming very curious as to what Jordan is wondering about, so I interrupt their question and answer session. “Jordan, why are you asking these questions?”
“Well, it just seems weird that everybody was dancing.”
“Why would that seem so strange, Jordan?”
“I don’t know. It just seems weird. And the cake. Why was there a cake?”
Well, Jordan, there is usually a cake at a wedding.”
“A wedding?”
“Yes. Gabrielle told us her sister got married.”
Then a look of understanding flooded Jordan’s face. “Oh. Her sister got married.
I thought she said her sister got buried.”


Laura said...

Oh, you made that up!

Jack said...

You don't have to be Laura to post here? Is that like crashing a party? A blog-jacking? Hmmm. I'll have to think of something clever to write.

What about the recent one? After telling the kids they couldn't go to recess for misbehaving, you changed your mind and let them go anyway, because, well, you didn't know why.

"I know why. It's because it's a nice thing to do, and really old people always do nice things like that."