Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are you WHITE?

Teaching people of other diversities is always something a little bit unusual.    You never know how they are going to react to you, and if you are me, you will worry that everything coming out of your mouth will offend them.  Part of my reasoning behind coming down to Houston, besides to be adventurous, was to be in contact with a really different racial diversity than the one I have experienced in my observations in Utah.  Not that they aren't varied there, but I wanted the hard places.  I wanted the students that everyone said were the bad ones, I wanted to teach in the tough places.  I am already starting to see that being here could not be farther from the truth.  Granted this is the first week of school and I haven't officially taken over the classes yet, but it has already been so much fun to interact with the students and have those little meaningful experiences.

My classload is a lot different than I thought it would be. I have one period of ESL (English as a Second Language) with a WIDE variety of English proficiency in each student.  I have two periods of Spanish 3, two periods of Spanish 3/4 which is for native speakers and one period of Spanish 5 which is a literature course for native speakers.  I love each class for different reasons, but my Spanish 3 classes seem to be the funniest.  In particular I have an african-american student who just cracks me up.  I'll call him T.  T came into our class on Monday and mine, the other student teacher, and our co-operating teacher's names were on the board.  My last name is very white, but the other two have spanish last names since both of them married latins.  I noticed that T kept looking at the board and then at each of us.  Finally he raised his hand. We called on him and this is what he said: 'I ain't tryin ta be racist u nothin, but are ya'll white?'  We laughed and said yes, to which he replied, 'Why you be teachin spanish den?'

I also had another student L ask me if she had mistakenly been put in the native-speaker class since we were speaking so much spanish in the classroom.  I replied that it was in fact the class for non-native speakers.  She replied, 'Then why ya'll be speakin spanish all the time?'  I laughed and explained that it was the only way they were going to learn.

Its funny how you can meet a group of people for the first time and already love them so much.  I guess that is what charity is all about.  I think for the first time in my life I TRULY understand the meaning of 'the pure love of Christ'.  I look at my students every day, and I realize that I don't know them very well. I have only had them for a few days but I already love and care about each and every one of them.  There is this wonderful balanced relationship between students and teachers.  They are so smart and observant that I am CONSTANTLY in awe of them.  Today I was helping some students with an assignment and one of them turned to me and said, 'Miss, you are ALWAYS singin'.' I started laughing, because anyone that knows me pretty well knows this is true.  I apologized and then girl sitting next to him said, 'No that's a good thing Miss, it means you always happy.'  They just make me smile.  I see them in the hallway and they go out of there way to say hello to me and are trying hard to remember my name. (I've shortened it to Miss Mac just cuz it is easier and I kind of love it.)  

I am happy here.
This is during the rain storm in the middle of the Jack Johnson Concert.  
We were still stoked to be there!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fit me in a perfect little box

Well, I've done it.  I've up and moved to Houston, Texas. (And by moved I mean I'm here until at least the end of November, unless by some strange miracle, I develop a southern drawl, start wearing cowboy boots and decided to change my name to Betty Sue.  At which point I will live here indefinitely.)  Its been quite the adjustment.  I'm still sleeping on a floor mat in a sleeping bag and I still groan every time I leave the, when that wave of humidity hits me, but I'm told it will get better come September.  I'll believe that when I see it.

I became obsessed with windmills (or whatever these things are called) on my drive down to Texas.

The last few days I have been going to my very first 'big kid job' going to 'big kid trainings' and talking about 'big kid things'.  Its been interesting to be doing it outside of Utah.  Granted I am a student-teacher which automatically makes me a second class citizen no matter what, but I feel like the conversations are a lot different because I am not surrounded by those of my same faith.  In some ways its been refreshing , in others its been a bit awkward. (Trying to explain why I don't drink at twenty-six and am declining an invitation to Happy Hour was a highlight.)  All in all, I am excited to be here.  I can't wait to meet my students, go to high school football games, and help chaperone homecoming...yeah, I'm that teacher.

Last Thursday was my first day on my high school campus.  It was a vigorous day of meetings (read:boring), but it was awesome to meet my co-operating teachers who are both awesome and meet my fellow teachers.  Throughout the day they had us do all of these 'personality tests' that were 'scientifically proven' to tell what type of people we  were.  They basically listed off things and we were instructed to pick one t hing from the group and that told what type of person we were.  The first one was animals.  I looked at the list of animals (a beaver, a bee, an owl, a chameleon and a dolphin) and this was my thought process: 'Well, I lived in Utah so I guess a bee works...But dolphoins are legit.  Then again owls are pretty cool and wise and all, but I guess I have never seen one, but if we go off of that I could really only be two of those animals on the list.' (you get the point)  I ended up sticking with the bee even though I DO NOT love bees at all.  The scientific answer for the type of person I was was totally inaccurate.

So I determined that no matter what you do, you cannot fit me in a box, and that makes me happy.