Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sometimes Conversations Just Happen

conversation In Not the answers I am looking for from Learn Me Good by Mister Teacher, he talks about the wild answers he gets for some questions asked. If you get a chance to read his whole post, it will make you smile.

His whole post reminded me of conversations in my own classroom and how my students would go off on a tangent and totally miss the point of what I was trying to make. Here are some examples.

I taught the novel Scarlet Letter using illustrated classics and my students loved these books. We read it as a play with different students playing different parts. When it was their character’s turn to speak, they would read their part. Here is part of the conversation as I remember it:

Me: Does anyone know what the letter A stood for? (Please do not use any profanity. It did not stand for THAT.)

T: Angry – ‘cause I sure would be angry if I had to wear a letter.

S: But the football team wears letters on their jackets for the school name – so was A the name of the school they went to?

K: No, A stands for adultery and it means she fooled around

E: My momma fooled around and my daddy beat her up! Then he went to jail!

T: My daddy was in jail too but he did drugs

S: I wouldn’t let no guy beat me up, I’d beat him up first

K: My momma left my daddy ‘cause he fooled around

E: My mommy never visited my daddy in jail

T: I heard the food was bad in jail

Well, I guess you get the picture…

Another time I wanted to talk about the careers that my students could have if they studied hard.  I wanted them to see that they had many options open to them if they just work towards a goal. For example, they can be a landscaper, a sales clerk, a receptionist, a cook, or even a filing clerk in an office.  Here is how the conversation ended up.

S: I want to work in a doctor’s office

T: You just want to know who got a disease!

E: My daddy got a disease and he had to have shots because he had a lot of girlfriends.

K: If you have a disease, I don’t want you cooking for me!

S: I like the pretty uniforms they wear!

T: But then you gotta wash it. Maybe you should work in a laudromat!

K: Can you get diseases if you work there.

T: You don’t even know how to wash clothes!

Which then brought me to the realization that I had a whole different set of problems besides careers to deal with. I needed to do more functional living skills with them in order for them to take a more serious look at their future.

Whenever I had a class discussion, I never knew what twists and turns it would take but sometimes it was a lot of fun. Sometimes I let these conversations just flow around me because they always made me smile. Sometimes the statements were sad and the students just had to let the ugliness out of them in order to leave room for some goodness. I didn’t do this often but sometimes it just had to happen. Sometimes we had to have these discussions in order for the learning discussions to be successful.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Age of Conversation Book'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/78601704@N00/2366474122 by: Gaurav Mishra

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