The Learning Lessons as a Teacher
by Amy Berger
“Cuál es tu pelicula favorita? “ I ask my kindergarten Spanish class at the local Jewish Community Center. “What is your favorite movie?” Before I have the opportunity to instruct my little protégés on how to form the question, a girl with a Prince Valient haircut and navy and white school uniform blurts out “The Lorax”, Miss Amy! And we saw it on Netflicks!” Netflicks ! I think to myself. How does this kid know about Netflicks already? I knew very little about it, myself, until my husband signed us up for the online movie service last week.
My foreign language students, which range from 2 to 65 years, are the best part of my business. Through a variety of student teacher interactions as well as many off-the-cuff conversations I enjoy getting to know my budding world-explorers.
One Saturday morning, several months ago, I visited one of my classrooms while our lovely Peruvian-born ‘maestra’ was conducting class. She introduced me to each student so I could make eye contact and shake hands. That morning Miss Angela (name changed) was teaching a lesson with hats. “¿Cόmo te llamas?” I asked each kid who had donned a fun head covering, ranging from Statue of Liberty’s crown to a rainbow-Afro clown wig. That morning, the children were also eating the candy they had been awarded for correct responses. How neat to converse in Spanish with giggling, costumed children whose teeth were covered in chocolate!
Of course not all my interactions as a School Director/Instructor are so sweet. There was that challenging morning when I arrived at my French for Preschoolers class, to find fourteen little parlantes huddled in a circle around their teacher, Miss Mary. One student had committed a heinous crime, and Miss Mary was attempting to cull out the accused from a sea of innocent faces. “Who took a bite out of Miss Amy’s apple?” she screamed. “You know Miss Amy specifically instructed you NOT to lick or bite the ‘pomme rouge’—because it is not a real piece of fruit!” No one confessed and not one student could look me in the eye. Quel dommage! I added, after learning about this severe infraction. After delivering a stern lecture about trust, to my mini-francophiles, we continued with class.
Yesterday, one of my 3rd grade Spanish students helped me clean up after class. “Donald, would you please remove the plastic box of chalk from the doorway?”, I asked as I folded up charts and wound up chords from boom-box and microphone. “Why do you do that, Miss Amy? Why do you place something in the door to keep it open?” “Because I like to feel the fresh air when I teach.” I explained. “Are you a TEACHER?” he asked with a tone of surprise in his voice. I almost tripped over my black rolling teacher-cart! What did this child think I was doing the past hour? Watering plants?! After some clarification, I determined that Donald only associates people with their own classrooms as ‘teachers’.
And so it goes.