I had one of the strangest interactions with a group of my students today. Not strange in that I didn't know what was going on; strange in that I knew what was going on but wasn't quite sure how to handle it.
In class with Mr. Spiky Field. Tuesday afternoon, school's almost out. I was in with the Crazy class. Sometimes we have a lot of fun together, and sometimes I just want to kill them. Today I was just confused. The class got noisier and noisier as the period went on they started laughing more and more, until a time I did a spot count of 6 quiet kids and 30 talking and laughing ones. (I confess, I counted a few times until I got a ratio that I liked. Usually it was half and half.) There was a column of boys that started to play paper shiritori, which is game where you take the last letter of a word and make a new word from that. For example, in English: caT > TrucK > KitE > ElephanT > etc etc... It's a very versatile game, sometimes it's a party game and sometimes we do it in class to kill time and test their vocab. These kids were doing it in pictures, which I thought was a creative variation, and they were passing this scrap of paper back and forth and giggling. I tried to peek over a few times and see what was going on but they would always tuck it away just in time.
One time one of the boys that always says funny English sentences to me was laughing particularly loudly. I asked him for the paper because I was going to throw it away and he wouldn't give it to me. So I asked him to take down notes and he said he was busy. So I gave him one of my Special White Girl Glares and the kids around him backed away a little bit. But I didn't take the paper, because it was down in his lap. At this moment some of the kids shot their hands into the air, looked at me, and said, "Help! We have a question! Come help us learn!" Gotta hand it to them. Sneaky.
A little while later, I was checking peoples notes and since a kid was angled away from me and didn't hear me come up behind him, I was able to reach down and snatch the paper away. The trash can was up where Mr. Spiky Field was teaching, so I just put it in my pocket to throw away later. As soon as all this happened about 6 boys started yelling and clamoring for me to give the paper back, but I sauntered over to the other side to correct spelling mistakes on the other side of the room. The kids had their hands up the whole time, yelling for me to come over and help them with their work, but since I knew they weren't taking notes anyways, and I didn't want seventh grade boys digging around in my pockets I stayed away from that side of the room. The class lasted about another 20-30 minutes, which was impressive endurance. At one point they started narrating my actions to each other. It was kinda funny, actually.
"Ok, she has it in her hand now."
"No, no! Now it's in her pocket."
"Yeah, because her hands aren't in her pockets anymore."
"No, now they're folded across her chest."
"She's not even looking at us."
I felt like the subject of a spy movie. And mind you, Mr. Spiky Field just talked over all of them, not even telling them to be quiet.
At the end of the class, the kids came up to me and asked if I had thrown it away. I said, yes, I had. Then two or three of them started to dig through the trash right there, looking for it! Mr. Spiky Field and I left the room, me wondering what use he had been the whole time, and then it was time for school cleaning.
I opened the paper in the teachers room and it was a softened, tattered paper with many different pens used on it to draw genitalia of various types. Shiritori, riiight. I showed it to the science teacher and we had a good laugh, and then I wondered what I should do with it. Should I show it to the homeroom teacher and get the kids in trouble? No, they were mostly acting like kids that have free reign, because they were hardly being disciplined. Not by Mr. Spiky Field anyways. That would be like not toilet training a dog and then hitting it when it goes to the bathroom inside.
The school is set up as a ring around a courtyard, with windows everywhere, so you can look across and see what everyone else is doing in the rest of the hallways. I happened to notice one of the culprits in the hallway across from my cleaning area. I waved to him, and then pulled out the paper from my pocket and pressed it against the window. There's a new rule that if you are caught running in school you have to clean the bathrooms, but this kid saw the paper and took off running like a lightning bolt. I watched him run around two sides of the school, and then heard him in my hallway panting and calling my name. Another kid joined him along the way. I pulled out the crumpled ball of paper and held it in my hand. Then I asked them what they thought they were doing during class, and to have more respect for teachers, and poor Mr. Spiky Field, you guys really gave him a hard time, you better be good students next time or you'll really get in trouble. Then I handed them the paper. They asked if I had looked at it. Yes. But I didn't seem to be getting on them for drawing obscene images, so they asked what I had thought. I rolled my eyes and told them to get back to cleaning.
When cleaning was over and I was going back to the teachers' room, I saw another kid that had been drawing coming up the stairs. I gave him a little wave and he gave me a not so nice look. Maybe he didn't get the memo.
For just an hour of activity, I sure did put a lot of mental energy into it. It was at once hilarious and aggravating. I don't know if I should have given the paper back, it honestly felt like an illicit drug deal at the time.
Two more months until staff change and I can play with the kids instead of having to pretend to fight against them. Two more months.
Tomorrow I'm going with my boss at the BoE to team teach an elementary school class about the months of the year. A bunch of other elementary school teachers will come and watch us to learn how to effectively teach English. Yay! I'm excited, because working with her should be really fun, but also a little nervous, because I haven't ever done it before and so am not used to her style.
I'm also trying so hard to go to Korea and Hong Kong in March. I've gotten prices anywhere from $500 to $1900 for the trip, so sorry Kyle and Vanessa! I'm still working on it!