When I was a kid, I was one of the shy, quiet ones in school. I would rarely raise my hand, even when I was certain I knew the right answer, because I was terrified of getting it wrong. From the moment I spelled “island” wrong in 1st grade — I had forgotten the “s” — my little six-year-old self decided it’s better to stay quiet than be embarrassed by a wrong answer in front of the class. (Aren’t they funny, the little neuroses we impose upon ourselves when we’re little? I also was embarrassed to turn in my tardy slip from being late to school one day, because I thought it meant I was retarded. Oh, kids.)
So I was usually one of the better-behaved kids. But I was definitely NOT the kind of student every teacher loves to have in their class. You know, the ones who pay attention, who answer questions, who stay focused and work hard. Au contraire. Granted, I did those things a lot of the time, but I also passed notes, doodled on my notebooks (and on my hands, on occasion), whispered to my neighbors, read books under my desk, zoned out and didn’t pay attention…the list goes on and on. What I didn’t realize then is that TEACHERS SEE AND HEAR THESE THINGS, ALWAYS. They really do have the proverbial set of “eyes in the back of the head”. We see more than you think we do.
The little French kids I teach are the same way. Kids are kids in any culture. It sure does bring back memories, though. I was pissed off this week at my kids’ behavior, but I can’t say I don’t understand that they would rather talk about their classmates’ drama, or create clubs, or look at their Pokémon cards.* Because I was TOTALLY the same way. I used to have 4 whole shoe boxes full of notes passed back and forth to my friends during classes.
Little did I know that I would one day become a teacher and despise the very actions I, myself, was doing. However, despite the annoyance that these kinds of behaviors are happening during my class, it does provide some level of amusement. On Monday, I confiscated two different things from kids in my CM2 class (10- & 11-year-olds). I tried to be “cool” and give them a chance to “Put it away!”, which they did…for about two seconds. So when I saw it again, I took it away, and I shoved it in my notebook for later. (I’m not yet at the point where I’d read notes out loud to the class to embarrass the authors…)
The first thing I confiscated was a little scrap of paper that two girls were passing back and forth. There is apparently some serious drama going on with someone’s friendships. The notes don’t entirely make sense, and of course things are spelled wrong, but it’s still kind of funny to be able to peek into the lives of 10-year-olds and see what kinds of problems are the most important to them.
I also had to confiscate another piece of paper from another girl. It was something having to do with a club they invented, which made me laugh. When I was 11, my friends and I were constantly founding different clubs during recess, and dissolving them when we thought up another great idea for a club. We had secret handshakes, club meetings, officers, club diaries…you name it. We were obsessed with clubs.
What they say about payback is true: what goes around, comes around. (Kinda like that Justin Timberlake song.) That said, I hope I get the chance to be a student again. I promise to be the best student EVER.
*Yes, that’s a big thing here, too. The kids were amazed when I told them that “back in my day, there were only 150 Pokémon.” Now, apparently, there are over 400 of these little fictional creatures. Oh, how the times have changed!