The final countdown

April 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

As I glanced lovingly at my students this week and wished them good luck on their midterms, I realized we have only 8 weeks left together.  The horrified faces I greeted on the first day have become the rhythm and stability in my days.  Whether I’m the same for them I can’t say, but love ‘em or hate ‘em, my weeks just aren’t complete without ’em.

I’ve been reading some fellow Fulbrighters blogs lately and realized how little I ever write about my students.  I was so down on teaching the first semester I would do anything not to think about them outside of class time.  It’s so much more romantic, too, to write about weekend jaunts and social fun.  But I spend hours each day with the little buggers, much more time than I do traveling, and they’ve managed to worm their way into a special place in my heart.  Besides, there are so many ridiculous things that happen in class that deserve to be shared.  I’ve begun posting daily quotes on my Twitter, but really the quotes need surrounding anecdotes. I can’t promise to equal the greatness of Cass, but I’ll do my best to capture the confusion that characterizes my weekday hours.  It’ll also kick my butt and get me posting here more about life—8 precious weeks left!

So this weeks is midterms week, which means that Monday and Tuesday are regular lessons and that’s it (!)  The exam happens Wednesday night, we grade on Thursday, and otherwise kick up our heels as our students toss their books in the air hightail it to Istanbul for the long weekend.  Reading, Writing, Listening, and Grammar are tested on the exam.  Notably absent?  Speaking.  So the past week or so we’ve been playing speaking-based review games of grammar and vocabulary.

My hazirlik classes are tracked by ability: A1 is the highest and C8 is the lowest (C8 deserves a blog all its own but I have neither the time nor the psychological prowess to dissect them).  After A1, B4 is my highest class and because they’ve got a quicker pick-up for English as well as a greater motivation (I’m not beating around the bush here) I can do more sophisticated activities with them. But  I had spent the previous weekend in Bulgaria and then returned late from a wedding in Istanbul, so lesson planning didn’t quite happen this weekend.  Default plan?  GAME.

Whenever I mention a game, some student inevitably brings up a disturbing Saw reference.  My games haven’t gotten quite that violent yet, but we’re on our way.  Today’s game was called, “Correct the Teacher: Grammar Edition.”

Rundown: class in two teams.
One person from each team comes to a central desk, Family Feud-style.
I say a grammatically incorrect statement.
Students must correct me—first one to slap the desk and get it right gets a point for their team.

Since B4 is a pretty advanced class, I threw some curveballs at them: past continuous, passive voice, obligation. They nailed them.  So I turned to phrasal verbs.  “Throw the garbage up!” I said, waiting for a quick desk slap.  It came.  “Throw up the garbage!” cried Guven, “throw up the garbage!”  I shook my head and turned to the other team’s rep (one day I’ll learn her name—let’s call her Merve) “Garbage throw up, garbage throw up!” she yelled.  I stare at her, horrified.  Taha, sitting down, yells from Guven’s team, “Throw garbage up!”  Merve’s team tries, “ I throw up garbage!”  They traded various incarnations of garbage vomit for about another two minutes,  All I could think was that I’d successfully the classic “A sphincter says what?” scene from Wayne’s World.  I’d done it.  I’d unwittingly managed to get one of the better classes to emphatically repeat something they would otherwise find horrifying.  Fulbright mission achieved!  After I stopped laughing, I did my best miming version of what throwing up garbage would really look like.  I guarantee you none of them will ever deliberately or accidentally direct someone to regurgitate trash again.

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