Category Archives: Teaching

… And Then There’s Just Getting Back on Track

The end of the school year is a bittersweet time, but this year more so than any other before. Moving from middle school English to high school French means that I have many of my former middle schoolers in my class. This year, a whole batch of my beloved middle schoolers — including several who were in French this year — have graduated.

It’s funny how life works. Watching people grow up and change and realizing one day that they’ve grown into adults. Knowing that they’ll always have a special place in my heart, and being pretty sure they’ll remember me too.

So that’s where I’ve been the last two weeks during my unintentional hiatus. Finishing out a school year and starting to think about the next (because that’s just how teaching works). But now that summer’s here, I’m back.

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Graduation (A Poem)

I remember
when you were young,
sixth grade, awkward hair,
trying to find yourself.
You were the class clown,
teacher’s pet, quiet one,
queen bee, reflective writer.
I loved teaching you.
Years passed, you grew up,
but you never stopped
smiling at me in the halls,
taking classes just because
I taught them, talking about
the days when you were young.
But now you are grown up
ready to leave these halls,
and I am left feeling old
and wondering if I’ll see you again.
You toss your hat, leave the stage,
leave a special place in my heart.


Adventures with School Lunch

I spend lunch on Fridays with the students, and it’s one of the highlights of my week. The crowd is a mix of current French students, past middle school English students, and some of their friends.

Most of the time, the conversation focuses around a shared fandom: Zelda, Agents of SHIELD, Star Wars, among many others. Other days, the conversation turns to what’s in our lunch.

Recently, I went through the usual routine of making a salad for lunch. I’m not always as good about cleaning the lettuce as I should be. I’ll be much better at it from now on after what happened.

As I reached the bottom of the salad, I came to a strange conclusion. There was something weird in my salad. Normally, I can think and listen to the conversation going on around me at the same time, but it felt like everything went quiet. All I could see was the strange item at the bottom of the container: a huge bug.

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In this case, huge was not hyperbole. Just the body was a solid inch long.

Everyone noticed that I had gone silent and the horrified look that I must have had on my face. They all peered down at the bug. We half laughed, half gagged at the thought that it had died in the head of lettuce I had chopped up that morning and had been buried here all along.

Then it got more interesting. Another student pointed out that its head appeared to be missing. The rest of it was completely intact, legs and all.

To this day, I have no idea if I ate the head, but at least I had a great group of students to be amused and horrified with me.


New Teaching Adventures

The last couple of weeks have been full of preparations for the school year to begin. There’s much to do on the administrative side (which I now handle), but there’s also a great deal to do as a teacher.

This year, I’m in new territory. For years, whenever anyone asked what I taught, the answer was simple: 7th and 8th grade English. When French I was added last year, I only mentioned it sometimes. Now, though, I hesitate every time someone asks me. I’ve handed my middle school English class off to a new teacher — one who’s more like a younger version of me. One who will continue to relate well to the students, I’m sure. After all, she plays Pokémon Go.

Amid the other administrative duties that come with summer, I’ve been working hard to learn more about French culture around the world to improve the French I that I’ve already taught and create a solid foundation for French II. This means my books on the French has only grown in the last few months.

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Just some of my books on French or in French.

 

One that I’ve been thoroughly engrossed in is Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau. While I have French lineage, my family came to the New World in the early 1700’s, when the Huguenots were kicked out of France, so there’s not much French culture left in family traditions. (Not that any of it would look like the modern French since modern France really started with the French Revolution in the late 1700’s.) It’s fascinating to read how differently they view things. In some ways, it feels familiar. In other ways, their culture is as different as Japanese culture is from ours.

So here’s to a new year filled with many familiar faces and new adventures.


14 Day Writing Challenge: Day 14 (or, The Moment of Truth)

The final* writing prompt: Write about a defining moment in your life.

*Yes, I remember that Day 6 didn’t actually happen because I’ve tried so many general genres over the years, but I plan to have it ready by the end of next week. Steampunk it is!

My last year of college had begun, and I realized that I had a serious problem. I had a fiancé, a nearly-complete degree in English, and a love for the French language. One thing I didn’t have, though, was a career plan.

When I first went to college, I anticipated that I’d be a published writer by the time I was finished and live off of those earnings. As senior year started, though, I realized that those childhood dreams weren’t going to come true the way that I had always expected. In the meantime, I needed to figure out something to actually do to earn money. I was already working as an office assistant at my church, but I knew that’s not what I wanted to do with my life. Working in an office just wasn’t for me.

After some thinking and research, I narrowed it down to two different options: I could become an editor or (much to my own surprise) a teacher.

Editing seemed like a natural choice. I enjoyed reading and didn’t mind sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time. Besides, my aunt had worked at one of the big publishing firms before she had kids, so I had a glimpse into what that industry looked like.

On the other hand, teaching had never even been on my list. I’d planned to teach my own children one day, like my mom taught my brother and me, but that was the extent of it. Now, though, it seemed to make more sense. I could get some practice in before having kids of my own, and I genuinely love working with kids. So why not?

The trouble, though, was getting started with either career. So I waited for one of the college’s job fairs and decided to check both options out. As I walked in, I prayed that I would know for sure what direction to go before I left that day. I had no idea what would happen next.

I first walked up to the publisher’s table. The two ladies there greeted me, we talked for a few minutes, and then they told me that they didn’t currently have any editing jobs open. That’s okay, I thought to myself. I wasn’t ready for that anyways. Before I turned to leave, one of the ladies cocked her head a little and smiled at me.

“You know,” she said, “you look like a teacher.”

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I hadn’t mentioned anything about choosing between editing or teaching. There was no way she could have known. Yet here she was, saying exactly what I needed to hear.

Everything after that was a blur. I remember stopping at the public school system’s table on the way out, but I already had decided I’d rather be in the private school system if I went that route. The next clear memory was walking back to my car in disbelief. I honestly didn’t know what to choose, so I’d asked for clear direction. And I’d gotten it. It still amazes me.

What is a defining moment in your life? Have you ever had a similar experience?


Farewell to English

As this school year comes to a close, I find myself in a place I haven’t been for five years. Instead of stowing all of the middle school English books away in a filing cabinet in my closet, they’re neatly organized in bags. It’s the end of an era.

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April Fool’s Day Hijinks

April Fool’s Day was Friday. I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what to do this year, I decided to go mild. The fun thing about middle schoolers is that they haven’t been around long enough to see everything, which means I can pull that old pop quiz prank. You know, the one in which the first direction is to read over the entire quiz before completing it, and the final line says that they only need to write their names at the top of the page and turn it in. The looks on their faces were priceless as they turned from horror to bemusement.

The Internet held better ones. My favorite this year, though, was National Geographic’s plan to stop publishing pictures of naked animals. The results were priceless… though I have to wonder how they managed to dress cats. Mine would never stand for it. Check out the slideshow here.

Boo as Frodo

Dressing a cat might be impossible, but dressing a dog? I did it to both of my childhood dogs. Here’s Shelby as Frodo.

What was your favorite prank this year? Did you pull one on someone?