Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Simulating an Interest in Science by Moldy Young Minds: A Day of Word Play

Kudos to my mom for the above word play.

Today was perhaps the first day I enjoyed this job. Relatively stress-free other than the three hours I thought today was Tuesday and panicked because I was one day short on lesson plans. The silly putty worked, thanks to three new bottles of glue @3.99 ea. thanks to your friendly neighborhood Long's Drugstore (though a little less friendly and not so neighborly since they've been bought out by CVS). I also got lunch at the world's slowest Subway. You'd think that since it was at a mall, it'd be pretty with it, but the concept of time was simply lost on these guys. At one point, one of the sandwich dudes went to the back to get a drink for himself.

I've been noticing I'm much less careful with what I say around these kids lately. Luckily, I think most of it flies over their heads. I was taking out a bag of garbage today after lunch, which subsequently sprung a leak once I lifted it over my head to dump in the garbage bin. I started going off about all the nasty crap that was spilling over me, oblivious to the two 4th graders who were helping me tote bags outside. They didn't say anything about it, so guess no harm no foul.

My second slip was a little different. We were making the silly putty/gak/flubber today, and started to explain how it was a colloid, and it sort of acted like a sponge. So, the more your manipulate the flubber, the more water gets squeezed out, and the drier and less flubber-like it becomes. Since I'm trying to convey technical information to a roomful of screaming kids, my explanations usually get shortened to a few sentences I can repeat over and over again like Communist propaganda. So, the colloid explanation got shortened to: "The more you play with it, the harder it becomes". Even this was a bit too long (ha!) for some of them, so that got shortened to: "Rub it to make it harder." None of the kids caught this (and why would they), but the dirty looks from my mom in the back, and the high school junior counselors cracking up in the back told me my joke didn't go unnoticed.

I'm starting to like the older kids more. The young ones are cute and adorable, and full of wonder, but the older kids have personality. I particularly like the E group, which is comprised of incoming 5th graders. A bunch of them are taking a supplemental band class or something, and one of the girls, M----, had her clarinet with her. I told her I also play clarinet (in addition to a crapload of other woodwinds. Except oboe. Never will I play oboe.) She didn't believe me, and spent all of recess testing me about music and parts of the clarinet. Of course I knew what stuff was: reed, ligature, barrel, bell, etc. (I would hope so after 8 years of band). I decided to push back, and started quizzing her on stuff. As recess ended, we decided to have a clarinet duel sometime in the coming week. To which another of the students, J-----, brought up that she plays violin. I think I'm going to try to put together a ragtag orchestra with these kids. We are, after all, doing a unit on sound and harmonics, so there is some validity to it. I also just really want to play music again.

An interesting thing I noted was the abundance of siblings in this program. I counted no less than 8 today. Aside from these very bright twins (they're impressively quick to pick up on things), very few of the other siblings look related. There's the S---- boys, one of which is medicated, while the other should be medicated. There's also these sisters whose last name sounds something like camera, the older of which has convinced her younger sister to smell me whenever she sees me (to which I asked her, "how would you like if people started smelling you?", to which she replied "that'd be cool!"). I also learned these sisters are responsible for starting a Bloody Mary scare in the school, which made all of the kids afraid of going in the bathroom.

Very excited, as tomorrow I have all my lessons planned out already. And since Friday we're going to Ice Palace (where I'm told I'll have to deal with overbearing parents. Helicopter parents, my mom calls them. They just sort of hover around), that means I'm all set for the week. The only issues is planning next week, where we'll revisit physics and talk about circuits, optics and harmonics. And at the end of the week, is open house, where I have to justify to 200 parents why its worth paying $1200 for me to baby sit the kids in the afternoon.


  1. Doesn't sitting in the back of your classroom while you're teaching make your mom a 'helicopter parent' too?

    Hahahahaha, I think you need to get giant print-outs of your mantras and hang them up around the classroom. Then bring them to Yale and decorate your room with them :).

    I'm impressed Maria knew the names of all those parts of the clarinet. I'm pretty sure back then I had no idea what a ligature referred to.

  2. My mom just sits there doing prep work for her own class. The only times she has ever done much of anything is when I say something somewhat inappropriate.

  3. Is your Mom teaching summer classes, too? If I recall, she's also an elementary school teacher?