Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ulterior motives for the class picnic

The best part about the fellowship was that each day spent with the kids was different. Sadly, most of the precious moments spent with the kids, especially with my poor memory, slip out of the mind.  A few lucky ones make it to facebook. This incident happened in my first year of teaching.

This was the end of unit 4 and I was making the English unit assessment. Students get different English papers based on their reading comprehension ability. I wanted to give ‘Anna’s magic coat’ from readinga-z which has stories based on reading levels. (I recommend reading the story). I have always been skeptical about giving stories from readinga-z. I feel that its content is made for white suburban American children. My kids led a very different life. My kids should not be judged on words and concepts they are not going to be a part of their lives. For example, cupcake was an important word in the story. A game called ‘red rover’ was also mentioned at the end of the story. Even I didn’t know what ‘red rover’ was. As much I liked the story, words like these made it difficult for me to give it as an assessment.
I brought my dilemma to then-manager Katelyn and used this example to complain that it was so hard to find texts based on reading levels, text is American and the levels can’t be trusted. Katelyn just told me to make the kids experience the vocabulary.

 "Katelyn Voice" - You have to expand their horizons. If they don’t know what cupcakes are, show them. Hell, have a picnic and eat cupcakes and play red rover.

I was incredulous. Did she expect me to have picnics for each new word that my kids came across? You got be kidding me.

However, that’s exactly what happened. I announced a class picnic in school since it was too much hassle to take them out. I got cupcakes and cookies and Aditya, an American friend (keeping in tune with the inherent purpose), to volunteer. Actually, I had got muffins instead but I told them they were cupcakes (#superteacher award).
Blue tarp was spread on the ground and kids sat in circles while ‘cupcakes’ and other food items were distributed. Then, all of us played Red rover. Other classes saw this and were jealous. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this event.
A few weeks ago, I asked the kids if they remembered the picnic we had the previous year. And yes they did. They also remembered how many cupcakes they got. They had forgotten the name of the game but remembered that it involved breaking lines.
This memorable class picnic happened just because their Bhaiya wanted to give a story to some students, not all, with the word ‘cupcake’ in their English test.