I have already documented in gross detail the plight of the teacher suffering from the common cold. In my continuing confessions, I turn to another phenomenon recently realised: You can make them do anything!
It’s remarkable. Last week I was highlighting to a class of elementary students the difference between the sound of ‘th’ as in ‘that’ and ‘th’ as in ‘think’. I proceeded to write many words connected to the theme on the board. I then led a group chorus of these words, which I conducted whimsically by gliding the tip of my whiteboard marker in foul swoops across the board, alighting dramatically on my word of choice. There was something so ridiculous about the whole endevour and my temptation to make them utter whole sentences that I lol-ed facing the board and behind their chants.
Another time, I was saying adieu to my class of French engineers. I had decided that their last class would be ‘fun’ so I had bought a box of delightful Irish truffles in that insufferably successful tourist shop O’Carrolls. Throughout my three week stint with the French engineers, I had been encouraging them to contribute to my home-made “Vocabulary Box”. I had made same on the advice of a highly-experienced teacher. I had “adapted my material” and “connected with the student body” by pasting a large picture of Brian O’Driscoll on the cover of the box.This was to act as a gentle reminder to Céderic, Frederic, Laurent and Stéphane (not their real names), that though France may have beaten Ireland at the rugby the previous weekend, the vocabulary box was a zone not to be conquered by Les Blues.
They had accepted this with the bemused equanimity to which I had become pleasantly accustomed. However, as the time came for me to wrap up my classes, I realised that the vocabulary cards resident inside the box had not come to any kind of finalé. Therefore, I packed in my bag a three-cd set of Irish music and announced that we were having a vocabulary quiz with on-the-spot prizes. I explained that I would pick at random a word from the vocabulary box, which they would then – working in teams of three- have to put into as many sentences as possible. The time limit would be set by the pumping beat of Lord of The Dance, which would stop suddenly in the manner of Musical Chairs. As I watched them scribbling frantically sentences containing the word ‘shamrock’ over a mix of Irish melodies, I had to once again turn away to hide my mirth. The first spot prize – a lolipop with a picture of a shamrock on it – was flung to Bernard, for his sentence “The shamrock bring me good chance”. A chancer I certainly am.