Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Still In Love...

I wrote about 9th graders last year at around this time and how awesome I think they are. I have two classes with a lot of 9th graders again this year and I started off the new year thinking that maybe it was just a nice group of kids that I had last year and not so much the age.

Well folks, it is confirmed, I just love 13 and 14 year olds, which is weird because my mother swears 13 is the year she wanted to slit her wrists with all of us when we were growing up. It must also be said it was not the best year to live through, however, I remember being a much bigger brat at 15.

Anyway, the first day in class we go over tips for doing well in class, and number one is always "Lose your fear!" The biggest challenge for a language teacher is to actually get the students to speak voluntarily. The first few days are awkward and I swear they all think I'm a lunatic with all the playacting I do in the first few days, but after a couple of weeks everyone gets into the swing of things. After all, if the teacher is acting like an idiot, then it must be ok, right?

Going back to you remember being 13? How awkward, how uncertain, how hyper-conscious you were about what everybody thought about you? I do. Think back...if a teacher had told you "Lose your fear!", you probably would have thought, "this teacher is obviously psychotic"; at least, I know I would have, just before collapsing into a pile of tormented social anxiety on the floor.

Anyway, my 9th graders last year did a great job losing their fear, which is why I loved them so much.  I am happy to say that this year's 9th graders have embraced the motto as well! They speak in Spanish to me all the time and when there is a massive breakdown in language (and there are a lot) they don't let it get to them. Sometimes it sounds like gibberish, sometimes they get halfway through and get stuck and have to finish in English. But they are not afraid. They stick with it, they have fun with it. They TRY. And they laugh when they make mistakes and then they try again.

That's why I love them.