Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Smart Kid February 27, 2010

Filed under: Teaching — Jen @ 9:16 pm

I need to share a little anecdote about my student, T. who is the one who understood that I was pulling everyone’s leg with my baby tiger story.  First of all T. drove me nuts because he only has one volume, which is consistently set to high.  With him, I often dramatically covered my ears and said, “Ow, T. you’re hurting my ears!”  But I love that kid.  He wasn’t at the top of the class, but he has a sharp, inquisitive mind and is really sweet.  I’m writing in the past tense because, sadly, he moved last week.  Last Friday was his last day.

And last Friday we were reading a book about Barack Obama and read a sentence that stated, “Barack was kind, fair, and honest.”  Earlier in the week we had learned about Abraham Lincoln, and I wanted them to make a connection between the two.  So I paused and said, “Hmmm, kind, fair, and honest…who does that make you think of?”  One child blurted out, “Abraham Lincoln!” at the same time that T. shot his hand in the air and yelled out, “Ms. Hubers!”


Simple IQ Test February 10, 2010

Filed under: Teaching — Jen @ 3:07 am

Last night I had a very unfortunate run-in with a couple falling glasses.  My thumb was sliced up pretty badly, but my roommate came to the rescue with enough bandages to resemble Little Jack Horner.  Fortunately, by this morning I could wear just a band-aid.  But even a band-aid catches the attention of 6-year-olds.  The questions started as soon as they entered the room:

Boy 1:  What happened to your thumb?

Me:  My baby tiger bit me.

Boy 1:  (satisfied with the answer) Oh.

Girl:  You have a baby tiger?

Me:  Do you really think I do?

Girl:  No.


Boy 2:  (yelling from his desk)  What happened to your thumb?

Me:  (ignoring him)

Boy 3:  T wants to know what happened to your thumb.

Me:  My baby tiger bit me.

Boy 3:  (satisfied with answer and walking over to Boy 2)  Her baby tiger bit her.

Boy 2 then looked at me with a skeptical look, grinned, and shook his head.


Fat Men Beating Each Other Up Over a Little Ball Trumps Worshipping God, Our Lord and Savior, Who Created the Heavens and the Earth February 7, 2010

Filed under: Culture — Jen @ 2:30 am

The following message was sent out from my church this week:
Super Bowl party directly following the 5:30 service! The service will be kept short and we will be recording the Super Bowl – so you won’t miss any of the game or any commercials. Bring your favorite Super Bowl dish or snack to share.  (My emphasis added.)

Seriously??  I certainly have skipped church on occasion for likely unworthy causes but never to sit in front of the TV.  This is why I sometimes hate this country.  Now the question is, do I want to go to that service at all knowing that there will be all kinds of references to football?

(I don’t know why that paragraph is so small.  I can’t find anything on here to change the size or type of the font.)


Race in My Classroom

Filed under: Teaching — Jen @ 1:03 am

I teach at a majority bilingual school.  On my team of nine first grade teachers, five teach bilingual (which in first grade means instruction is mostly all Spanish) and four of us are monolingual.  The four of us teaching monolingual have a mix of students, including many Hispanic or Asian ESL students.  However, because the teacher I replaced was not ESL-certified, I had no ESL students when I started.  As a result, my students are predominantly black.  To be precise, I had 17 black students and three Hispanic students when I started.  I now have two more Hispanic students.

I, as a white teacher, am very aware of the segregation in the school.  I found it hard to relate Martin Luther King’s fight for integration to my class.  Usually I can point to my melting pot of students and say, “Isn’t it great that because of Martin Luther King’s fight for civil rights, we all get to be in school together?”  This time around I said, “I’m so glad that because of Martin Luther King, I get to be your teacher.”  I don’t think they got it.

When I first started teaching a month ago, we made a poster with the students’ faces all around.  I had manila, light brown, and dark brown paper for them to choose from.  I had drawn my face on manila.  I really stressed that they should make their self-portrait look as much like them as possible.  I was surprised at how many chose manila paper, while a couple of the lighter-skinned kids chose dark brown.  I thought:  Maybe they’re not aware of their “blackness” or “Hispanicness” or my “whiteness”.

Then this week, I changed my mind about that.  Let me preface my first anecdote by explaining that I share lunch/recess duty with my neighbor teacher who is a bilingual teacher.  She takes both classes to lunch every day, and I take both to recess.  The two groups never interact (except for the bullies!).  This week because of the weather, we had a painful five days of indoor recess.  On one of the days after Mrs. B’s class had gone back to their room and Iwas asking about something that had happened during recess in my room, one of my kids said that “one of the white ones” did it, referring to the Hispanic students in the bilingual class.  The White Ones.

Another day this week I was getting tired of all the tattling that was going on all day and decided to just start mimicking what the students sounded like.  At one point, one little girl whined about another:  “She won’t stop messin’ wi’ me!”  So I cocked my hip, put my hand on it and threw back, “She won’t stop messin’ wi’ me!” which created many surprised looks and shut several students up.  Then the tattler said, “You sound like a black person.”

So apparently I’m not the only one aware of my “whiteness” and their “blackness”.