Inside the Classroom

It’s hard to believe, but we are into our last four weeks of school for this year. This means that (hopefully) I am also in my last four weeks as a 6th grade teacher. It had actually been pretty fun as they are an amazingly easy group of kids to work with, but I am ready to go back to only having one job.

I have worked closely with 6th graders in the past and they are my favorite age group. Mostly because they are just so weird and if you don’t take yourself too seriously, they won’t either and you all can just laugh at yourselves all day long. Last week I wore a green dress to work. This is not the first time that I have worn that dress, but that day was the day that one of my students decided to announce to the whole class that “Ms. Schubert looks like an avocado.” I didn’t know what to make of that (and still don’t) but I did say “I’m not sure THAT can be taken as a compliment,” laughed about it and moved on. Later I was checking the kids progress on a project they were working on and I came across this inside their work. Which was supposed to be about ancient civilizations.

At least I’m a smiley avocado?

Note that we are 15 weeks into the semester and they still can’t spell my name correctly. In the throes of this same project I had a student looking at a book about important inventions throughout history. He pointed at something in the book and asked me “what’s a test-tube baby?” I said, oh that’s a baby that is born through IFV. He just looked at me with a huh? expression so I said “that’s when the egg is fertilized outside of the woman’s body.” And so he asked me “why would someone do that?” and I said “sometimes because they are having trouble getting pregnant the old fashioned way.” As soon as that was out of my mouth I thought uh oh I might be digging myself a hole here. And sure enough, another student nearby said “wait a minute, how DOES a lady get pregnant?” I just sort of froze, because all of a sudden I was very unclear about what actually these kids had learned at school about all of this and I also was conscious that Burmese society is quite a lot more conservative than a lot of other places and it was very possible that this kid’s family had not broached this subject. Luckily the question-asker, being a 6th grade boy, got distracted by something else immediately and I never had to answer the question. I did SOS the counselor to regale her with the encounter and I also followed up with the principal because if this ever made it back to her I wanted to front-load her with the info about how we got from Ancient Civilizations to pregnant ladies. Anyway, now the 6th grade is going to get treated to a sex-ed boot camp in the last weeks of school so we can clear all this up.

Speaking of ancient civilizations, we did a little unit on Ancient Egypt. It is very easy to get kids excited about that for lots of reasons so it makes a perfect entry point into then exploring other civilizations. We studied it through looking at the social pyramid and what life was like for different people in that society. We figured out how many peasants, artisans, scribes, etc we would have if our class of 15 represented all of Egyptian Society and then drew straws for who got which social class. I knew everyone would want to be the Pharaoh so I decided right off the bat that it was going to be me. Meet Pharaoh Schu-tankhamen!

Gav’s assistant did that magnificent photoshopping job there, so amazing. I laugh every time I look at it, the kids thought it was pretty funny too. Unfortunately the unit ended and the reign of Schu-tankamen is over, but it was fun while it lasted.

Last week wearing a mask became optional for the first time at school. Our students have been very compliant about mask wearing, probably because it has always been super normal for people to wear masks in Asia. I was shocked when I arrived here how many students would randomly wear masks to school if they weren’t feeling 100%. So I wasn’t surprised when I went to class and found that only 3 kids were choosing not to wear their mask. About 15 minutes into class I took a drink of water and it went down the wrong way. I coughed a little bit and immediately two of the maskless kids put their masks back on and the one kid who didn’t have a mask put his shirt up over his nose. Thanks kids! I explained I just choked a little but they weren’t having it.

A favorite class pastime is to see who can squeeze themselves into different small spaces. I told you they were weird!

Along with teaching 6th grade, I still have all of my library duties so I am pretty busy. As I have said before, a highlight of my week is reading to the kindergarten class. They have gotten opinionated about what I read them and then send me a note every week to tell me what they want the story to be about. I had to put the kibosh on princess stories after getting that request a bunch of times (I try not to do traditional princessey stories and once I read a story about a pirate princess and I don’t think they were very impressed). Sometimes I have to be very creative to find a book that fits the theme. Robot Dog was a difficult one (I did find one book) and just last week I got this request.

I finally figured out that this was a request for a jellyfish book (good thing the drawing was there) but I just could NOT find any storybooks about jellyfish. Children’s book publishers, there is a hole in your market! I ended up reading them all kids of facts about different kinds of jellyfish from non-fiction books and then a kid raised his hand and said “can this be over now please” so I think I did not quite hit the mark. Hopefully next week will be easier as I got this request.

A “silly girl book” is quite a lot easier to fulfill than the jellyfish one! I wonder if that is a picture of me? I also wonder if the photo at the very top is a picture of me. They both bear a resemblance….

The class loves “silly” books. I have gotten requests for silly zebras, silly giraffes, a silly bat. Once just a plain old silly book. I guess they like to laugh.

That one up there says “Princess and Bunny.” I had to ask for clarification. Also a difficult one to fulfill.

So here we are, four weeks to the end of our fourth year. The airport has opened to commercial flights as we have heard that tourists will be able to get visas in the near future. We have tickets to fly out for the summer, although it is causing us a little angst after getting stuck outside of the country for so long last year. We are pretty hopeful that things are looking up travel-wise though. That being said, our departure flight was changed twice and then finally cancelled on us (we can leave the next day) so maybe we are being a tad bit optimistic! Fingers crossed the next few weeks are uneventful and we can wrap up the year calmly.

Our finished pagodas. I love them, thanks Greg!

One thought on “Inside the Classroom

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  1. Schu-tankhamen the almighty! Love it! I viscerally experienced that “digging-a-hole” feeling reading about your IVF conversation. “Talk to your parents, kid!”

    Re. jellyfish, my mind immediately went to “The Thing About Jellyfish,” which I’m sure actually has nothing to do about actual jellyfish. (As you can tell, I haven’t read it.)

    How is Nell? I need a Nell report!


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