As I mentioned yesterday, I was in a fourth-grade English class today, all day. Three sections, with no break at all.
The kids read aloud reports on Spain that they'd written. Their teacher had required them to fit vocabulary words into the essays, so there were more than a few unintentionally humorous sentences where the kids had forced the words into the piece, regardless of overall flow or sense.
For example, immediately following a discussion of bullfighting and apropos of nothing: "If everyone in Spain died, there would be great despair."
Sometimes the kids tried a bit harder: "I bet the bull is filled with despair as the matadors stab him."
Or a final line of a report on the modern customs of Spain: "I did not find anything about segregation when I researched this paper."
My favorite: "There is no place for segregation in fandango dancing."
There were the usual instances, as well, of misunderstanding words: "Spanish people creed that bullfighting is a good sport."
Besides listening to the kids read the essays, I administered a brief vocabulary quiz to each section, read some Narnia books aloud (I'd forgotten just how good they are) at DEAR time, and started a KWL chart about Spain.
It may not sound like much, but this day kicked my ass. I left school with deep exhaustion and a newfound respect for teachers at this level.
Oh, and I made a fourth-grader cry today by giving him a recess timeout (actually, I meant for him just to come see me and talk to me about the problem he'd been having, but he went and put himself in timeout instead). He said he hadn't gotten a timeout in two years. I had been very calm and laid back about the whole thing, so it wasn't like I scared him with my attitude or anything. He was just sensitive about getting "in trouble." I tried to console him afterwards, the poor guy. I really don't think it's that big a deal, but another teacher told me his mother might want to talk to me about it, as she's a hands-on type who has five other kids either in or graduated from Prestigious. Ouch.