Student Teaching in Ann Arbor

My two schools where I am doing my student teaching are both non-traditional, alternative public schools. I don’t have a lot of experience in public schools or schools of any kind, but I know enough to recognize that where I’m at now is a little off the beaten path. I get plenty of reminders of the environment I’m actually working in. For example, in the 7th/8th grade class:

  • We were learning Spanish adjectives to describe opposites, using “famous opposites”(Laurel & Hardy, The Odd Couple, Lisa & Bart Simpson, Celine Dion and her husband what’s-his-face, etc…) I’m not familiar with the Odd Couple, so obviously none of the kids knew who they were. But the picture we had was of two clearly different people: one scruffy guy with a scuzzy shirt, baseball hat, cigar, etc… and the other in a suit. Someone pointed out that the cigar-smoker was a “mal ejemplo” because of the smoking. A kid in the back piped up: “Well, clearly they’re both bad examples, because that guy’s wearing a suit, so he’s obviously part of a big corporation that’s exploiting underpaid workers…” and on and on. What? You’re in 7th grade.
  • Same class, same discussion of opposites. When my cooperating teacher told the class that these were characters from a show called The Odd Couple, one kid asked if they were actually a couple. Another kid raised his hand and said “Well, probably not, because homosexuality wasn’t really accepted at that point in time. It hasn’t been publically accepted until a lot more recently.” I grew up in a white/straight/christian smalltown.. I don’t remember when I even found out homosexuality existed, but it was certainly well into high school.
  • This week we were talking about greetings, and different ways to address tú (informal) and usted (formal) people. In Spain, we explained, or in schools that are more traditional, students don’t call their teachers by their first names, and it would be very disrespectful to call a teacher tú. “What about in an Open School in Spain?” somebody asked. “I don’t think they have open schools in Spain,” said my cooperating teacher. “Why not?” asked the Class Struggle Kid from my first example. “Are they classists or something?”

They’re such odd, funny, smart kids. I’m having a blast.

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