Mis Alumnos

My students are nuts.


Not this kind.

I say that in the nicest way possible, with love in my heart. But really. They’re crazy. Especially during the last hour of the day, from 1:30-2:15. They’re all hungry and have been in school since 8:30 a.m. with a really solid meal, perhaps some chips at 11. On Wednesdays, I stay until last hour and, rather unfortunately, I am with a first year class. They’re in their first year of instituto, or high school. (High school here begins around age 12.) So, they’re rather like rascally middle schoolers in demeanor. I love them and really dislike them at the same time. Let me explain.

They talk a lot. And not in Spanish. Rather, they talk to their neighbor, to Arturo (the teacher), to the window, to anything but to me in English. I am supposed to pretend I don’t speak Spanish, but that’s rather difficult, as they often blurt out hilarious one-liners and I can’t help but laugh. (I, too, am not yet fully mature. Don’t think I’ll ever be, actually.) They’re mainly sweet kids, with a few troublemakers thrown in for good measure. I like to learn the names of the talkers so as to call them out especially. Usually, they’ve no idea and have to fumble around rather hilariously, all the while trying (but not succeeding) to seem as though they’ve been following along.

My greatest frustration lies with the smart, but reluctant, ones. They are the ones you know understand you, the ones who laugh at your English jokes, who smile encouragingly, but don’t speak up when I present a general question to the class. I am trying to learn their names too because, honestly, it is easy to call upon them when everyone else is confused. As an added bonus, their English is easier for their peers to understand.

I have several wonderful students, students who are always trying and whose English is rather good for the ripe old age of 14 (or 13 or 12). When I was 12, I didn’t know any Spanish besides, perhaps, “sí” and “estúpido”. Very useful in times of need. My mother did teach me how to ask for the bathroom, in case I ever mistakenly wandered into rural Mexico…hasn’t happened yet, but I shan’t forget it: “¿Dónde está el baño?” Thanks, Mom.

Perhaps my favoritest (yes, that’s a word, trust me) part is when the students talk to me in the hallways, “Hallo, Kelly,” they say, grinning from ear to ear. “How are juu?” I reply slowly, but sometimes get mischievious and ask them “What’s up?” to mix things up a bit. It never fails to elicit a confused face and a guttural “Huh?” from just about every student. Ah, it really is the little things.

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