Sunday, May 19, 2013

Student Comments [Six]... and other random musings

Grading a 6th grade exam.
The question: What causes earthquakes?
Answer: When scientits plates collide they can cause earthquakes.

Err scientits??? I'm assuming they wanted to stay scientist...oh tectonic my darling... it's TECTONIC plates.

While taking the students out in pairs and doing an activity where they had to order the events of the Contemporary age. I had one boy and one girl. Both of them are extremely smart, and were going through the activity fairly quickly. The boy was on a roll, not really being a team player, and the girl was jumping in and putting in her two cents. The boy frustrated wanting to figure things out just tells her "Be quiet, stop, let me think, I'm doing it, just shut up" And she replies with "Yo no me pienso callar" Which essentially means "I have no intention of being quiet" I was very proud of her at that moment, as I looked in awe for a second and then resumed teacherly tasks of getting them to work better as a team.

So to supplement my income I teach two private classes. On a Thursday afternoon I was playing a game with my 8 year old where I had a box full of random words. She had to pick a word, spell it correctly (not saying E for I...) tell me what it means in Spanish and use it in a sentence. At the end we would tally the points for everything she did correctly.

She pulls out the the word walrus, and she says I don't know...YOU! I look at her, and she says she really doesn't know what it means. So I explain to her why she shouldn't make jokes like that because it could come out very bad....Oh aren't children wonderful.

Here are a few example of where I leave behind my adulthood and have to fight giggling uncontrollably at what my students say.

-While my students were studying for their comprehensive exam we had to work with our solar system. And every single one of them pronounced Uranus as urine.

-As a language assistant you're used as a reference for pronunciation. One day I had been working all morning with second graders and clothing. So I would say to the class "scarf" and 20 of them would shout it back to me properly. "Shirt", "trousers" and so on. At the end of the day I had my sixth grade class who was working on the human reproductive system, and with the same pronunciation exercise I said "penis" to them and had 20 eager 6th graders all shout "Penis" in unison towards me... I couldn't stop the laughs.

-My student during a brainstorming activity trying to prove his point on what materials to choose "A poster without paper is like a pool with no water"

-When my first graders were taking an exam I had to take outside the ones that finished early and practice English with them. So since I had been practicing spelling their name with them I decided to see how they were doing with remembering it. The group of 6 kids finished spelling, and did it rather well, then this exchange happened.

Student 1- (excited) I could spell it right, because we worked on it all morning.
Student 2- I knew it, because I'm the smartest kid in the class... so that's all there is to it.
Oh what wonderful 6 year old lol

-Another activity language assistants do is take students out and ask them basic questions that they are going to be asked on their English qualifying exams. My fourth graders come in pairs and I facilitate a conversation with them. And here is how one went.

                         Me: Student A, why don't you ask Student B what he had for breakfast this morning?
                         Student A: What did you have for breastfuk this morning?
                         Me: No, no, no... breaKfaST.
                         Student A: Breastfuk
                         Me: (Trying with all my being to hold in my giggles). Ok, ask him again what he had
                         for breakfast.
                         Student A: What did you have for breastfuk?
                         Me: Okay, Student B, tell us what you ate...

Since language assistants are not allowed to speak Spanish under any circumstance, we were asked to tell the students we can't speak it. This makes it like a challenge for students to try to make you speak it. They are constantly telling us "come on, can you say 'Hola'" One day when I had a 6th grader asked me to speak Spanish, I replied I can't if I do the teacher will beat me and I could lose my job. To which she very passionately replied, "You are not a peasant this isn't the middle ages, you don't have to pay your dues to the king." I guess she really was paying attention in class

This whole not speaking Spanish isn't always convenient, especially when the school secretary doesn't speak English. One day after a stressful lunchtime activity class, I ran into the secretary because she's a spunky older lady who can put the kids in their place. So I needed tell her about a fight that went down with the kids. I had the whole class in front of me so I ended up looking like a dunce trying to use similar English words to Spanish so she would understand. After still getting a blank look I told one of the students to tell her what went down. After that went down a student came up to me with the most sincere having pity for my face and said "You need to practice your Spanish..." I just laughed it off and sent them to lunch.

The most horrifying conversation with a student on the metro ride home before my birthday weekend.

Student- How old are you?
Me- 24 almost 25
Student- (super surprised) Really?! I thought you were 40!
Me- What?!
Student's father- How could you think she's 40 if I'm almost 50?
Student (still genuinely stunned)- I don't know. I just thought you were a lot older.
Me- Well darling, you've just failed English class...that's for sure lol. (she's lucky she's one of my favorites)

The language assistants got their schedules changed in order to accommodate upcoming standardized tests to give practice to those who need help first. I got to the first grade classroom, and took them out in pairs to ask basic questions like "What's your name?' "Do you have any brothers or sister?" or "What is the weather like today. There was one boy who didn't want to come because he didn't know me, but the teacher forced him to come along. So we had our conversation and I sent him on his way back to get the next pair from the class. Later I heard him cross path with a classmate and he asked "Did you have her, isn't she cool?" My heart melted...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Poetic Absence

So I know 2013 hasn't been my year for blogging... but I'm looking to change that (really, this time).

But my time away from this blog was not totally without words. April is National Poetry Month, and in that I participated in the challenge of creating 30 poems for 30 days. You can see the product of that here.

They say the way you become a better writer is by writing. I know I've made reference to this before, but during the month of April I really found this to be true. Even though it wasn't always easy to find something to write about on a daily basis, and trying not to sound too repetitive or too emo (not sure if I accomplished this one) but all in all I think it was a fabulous experience.

I reached a personal goal, which was to write poetry in Spanish. I churned out dos of my own mini masterpieces.

April is over... and there are still so many more things to write.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Magnolia Memoir

The hardest part sometimes when wanting to write is figuring out how to start.So I guess the most appropriate thing to do would be to start at the beginning. I've been away from blogging for a while and the reason (or in part) because I was a part of a play named after a flower.

Back in February word came out that the Madrid Players were going to do a production of Steel Magnolias. I got really excited because it's a story that is near and dear to my heart.... especially since my diabetic sister is planning her wedding, and I'm not available to be there. The other reason is because it's a great story about relationships you form, and having watched the movie a billion and one times, that story has made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. I wanted so badly to be a part of this production. I got even more excited when I found out the potential people I could be working with, including my good friend Parisa as the director.

So I found a monologue, went to the audition, and rocked it (despite other personal things going on in my life). The next day was emotional, and then I got the email, that despite being great, it was decided to go another direction. Though, I understood, thought it was logical, my heart sunk. Not only because I really wanted it, but because it was another moment to add to the endless list of times that I've been told "Yeah you'd be good but we want someone else" Not in those words... but the message is the same.

Then after two days of sulking on a trip to Asturias on a little day trip to Covadonga, I sat in a church in a cave and I prayed for the strength to overcome all of the emotions that were coming at me from every direction. Right then I got a text message from Parisa saying "call me when you can". I called her back immediately telling her sorry I couldn't get to her sooner, I didn't get good reception in the cave lol.
Then she starts "Well I wanted to ask you..." And right then and there I cut her off and said, "Yes, whatever you're going to ask me the answer is yes." Now that I think about it, it's a good thing she didn't ask me for a kidney lol. After lots of laughter, she offered me the part of Annelle and I accepted. Then the wonderful magical journey that was this production began.

I was so nervous and scared. This was the first full length non-musical play I'd ever done. I was working with absolutely gorgeous fabulous actresses that I look up to, and I had the slight taunting in my head that I was the 2nd choice (up until closing night). So I worked twice as hard, just like I always do, because everyday is a new opportunity to prove yourself, and (as Annelle would say) I guess it worked.

Being a part of this group was so much fun, because despite we had a lot of laughs that were scripted there were so many more real life laughs and smiles to go around. From rehearsal day one to closing night, and the marvelous pampering of getting made up for the show, you couldn't keep a smile from my face.

 I was ecstatic when Daryl Hannah (movie Annelle) replied to my tweet about being cast.
The long days of leaving the house at 8am and arriving at home an 12:30am were hard. Giving up Saturday night parties for Sunday morning rehearsals were all well worth it. The response to our play has been overwhelmingly positive, and people have even told me they're fans (still hard to conceive). I've always been famous in a small town, but famous in a big city is a whole other story...

So now all I can say is thank you, an enormous thank you to all of those involved to making this experience so marvelous and memorable and simply amazing. I can't begin to express my gratitude for being accepted into this little family. 

The tears came out during that final curtain call, because this chapter is over, and I'm left with uncertainty if I'll ever act on a Madrid stage again.Tears came out because of Mother's day and being on the other side of the world not having seen my momma in nearly 2 years. Tears of joy came out because all of our hard work paid off. 

I have  ticket to head to California on the 4th of July, and these next few weeks are going to be for the people who I've had to tell I was busy for the last 3 months, and I'm glad to be back. There are still so many reference following me around reminding me of this beautiful experience. It makes my heart swell to think about the bonds I've made becoming a Steel Magnolia. I know I am a blessed woman, and I'll try my best to live in the moment, and simply enjoy. 


Photo Slideshow of the show here.