Tag Archives: teaching

Norms

“I think people were surprised when Donald Trump won the election because usually the president is black. But when Kamala Harris wins, things will be normal again.”

— Kid, age 11, whose hopeful, raised-in-the-Obama-era innocence is giving me a reason to live right now so I’ll ignore how shockingly off-base he is regarding norms, and how swiftly and miserably he’s going to flunk U.S. History class.

Seriously that’s some F-minus shit right there.

Taking a Stand

My 5-year-old nephew and I are hanging out on the beach during our Outer Banks vacation….

Nephew: “Auntie Em, I’m gonna go to the White House. It would be so cool to live there, don’t you think?”

Me: “Meh. Not right now it wouldn’t be.”

Nephew: “Why?”

Me: “Because you’d have to live there with Donald Trump.”

Nephew: “He lives there?”

Me: “Yes, and he’s the worst. He’s not a good person. He’s extremely selfish and rude and he has no respect for other people, especially women. So do me a favor– stay away from the White House until there’s someone respectable living in it, which will hopefully be the case come January. Until then, I think you should take a stand with your Auntie Em and stay far away from ANYTHING having to do with this president, who is nothing but a bully– because I know that you have a kind heart, just like I do.”

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Later, my nephew’s nanny approaches me….

Nanny: “Did you say something to Tyler?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Nanny: “I was going to take him to see the lighthouse in Corolla today and he was so excited, but now he’s yelling that he won’t go because a bad, selfish bully lives there, and he’s taking a stand with his Auntie Em.”

Me: “Ohhhhhh oh oh– the LIGHThouse!”

Nanny: “Yes…”

My bad.

No. I’m Clearly Not.

Tutoring session with a 5th grader…

Me: “Hey bud! What’s up?”

Kid: “I’m hanging on by a thread.”

Me: “Oh, man. I’m sorry to hear that. But you know what? I think everyone’s hanging on by a thread these days. I know I certainly am. It’s just becoming too much, you know? Waking up every morning and every day is pretty much the same, with very little to do to get our minds off the problems in the world right now. It certainly creates feelings of anxiety, wondering when and if any of this is ever going to get better. But just know you’re not alone in those feelings.”

Kid: “Wait what? I said I’m hanging out with Fred. My cat, Fred.”

Me: “Oh!”

(awkward silence)

Kid: “Are you ok?”

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Modern Math

Math session with a 1st grader…

Me: “Ok, so we’re going to do some fun math problems today, all involving ducks! Because I know how much you love birds. The questions are going to start off super easy, but they build off each other and become more challenging as we go.”

Kid: “Ok.”

Me: “So first question– there are three ducks. Each duck is 1 foot in length. If the three ducks go swimming together in a line, beak to tail, how long is the duck-line?”

Kid: “Wait, so each duck is ONE foot long?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “And there are THREE of them?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Ok let me think.” (starts whisper counting to himself, goes way past 3)

Me: “Woah woah, you’re already counting too high. There are only THREE ducks.”

Kid: “I know I know…” (keeps counting, now silently, but keeping track on fingers)

Me: “This is supposed to the super-easy first problem, it doesn’t really require finger counting.”

Kid: “I’ve almost got it, hold on.”

Me: “Ok I’m trying to help you but you’re not listen—”

Kid: “Shh shhh wait let me finish.”

Me: img_1179-1

Kid (finally): “15! The answer is 15 feet.” (crosses arms, super proud of self)

Me: “What? No. Not even close. There are only 3 ducks and they are each ONE foot!”

Kid: “Yeah but you gotta have 6 feet between each duck or they’ll all get corona.”

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Plus That

Today I was in a tutoring session with a 6th grader who I have always considered to be very mature for her age. She’s always aware of the latest current events and it seems her parents don’t try to censor the content she consumes online. Just last week we had a very in-depth conversation about George Floyd (she’s horrified and heartbroken) and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus (she’s disgusted).

As a teacher, I of course don’t play favorites, so needless to say she’s my favorite.

Anyway, given her maturity and general awareness of horrible shit in the world, I was surprised when, given an assignment to invite 4 famous people (past or present) to dinner and write the dialogue that would ensue, she immediately chose Michael Jackson as her first guest.

Me (treading lightly): “Oh. That’s, umm…an interesting choice.”

Kid: “Yeah I mean he’s a LEGEND. And a musical genius. I bet he’d have a LOT of interesting stuff to say. He’s like one of the most successful and best-selling artists ever!”

Me (realizing she is clearly unaware of the controversy surrounding him): “Well…I can’t really argue with that. So ok, Michael Jackson. Who else would you choose?”

Kid: “Barack Obama, Malala, Greta Thunberg, and Martin Luther King Jr.”

Me: “Oh! I love those choices! But remember you can only have four guests total.”

Kid: “Ok, I guess then get rid of Michael Jackson.”

Me (relieved): “I agree.”

Kid: “He doesn’t really fit in with the rest of my choices. Like, he’s not a hero or an activist or anything.”

Me: “Right. Exactly. I was thinking the same thing.”

Kid: “Yeah.”

(Silence)

Kid: “Plus he raped all those kids.”

 

AFTER That

I’m tutoring a middle schooler for an important test she will take at the end of the year. She is super anxious about it, so I promise her I will have her fully prepared.

Kid: “Ok but what if you just, like, up and die before the test? THEN WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!”

Me: “Ok, well. I certainly do not plan to die this year. But if I did– which I won’t– well, I suppose you could start by feeling sad about the sudden and tragic loss of your dear tutor and friend.”

Kid: “Oh– right, yes. OF COURSE. Sorry. Of course I’d feel sad.”

(silence)

Kid: “But like, AFTER that…?”

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