I have recently been working on what has turned out to be a totally soul-sucking project: the portfolio that will allow me to complete my single–subject credential. I’ve been in my credential program for nearly two years, and it truly is the bane of my existence. On April 28, I will deliver a 30 minute presentation proving that yes, I DO know what I’m doing in the classroom.
Or at least I’m a good faker.
Anyways, part of the process has been unearthing lesson plans from the start of my teaching career. I try my hardest NOT to think about what I was like as a first-year teacher, because your first year of teaching is overwhelming. Basically, imagine tap dancing on an anthill, naked, with 100 of the meanest 12-year-olds in the world pointing and laughing while you try to recite a poem in Latin. It really is THAT bad.
Last year, just a few weeks in, I had to review elements of a short story with my 7th graders (for those of you paying attention, I taught 7th last year and teach 8th this year). In order to demonstrate that, we use a model text, The Paper Bag Princess. It’s a cool story endorsed by the National Organization for Women, so you know, the Feminazi 7th graders I teach won’t lose their mind when confronted with a princess stereotype.
After we reviewed plot and all of that crap, I had them do the very typical, “What do you think happens next?” thing, and write a short script acting out what happened next in the story. I was really excited to see what my kids would come up with, because in case you haven’t been around a kid in awhile, they’re freaking hysterical. They were incredibly nervous about this assignment because I required them to come up in front of the class and present their script as a little mini-play, and these students were very low-level readers and writers, many of them learning English as their second language.
The last two girls to perform were quite possibly the most soft-spoken innocent 7th grade girls ever. One of them fancied drawing squirrels and rainbows on her paper, until I had to stop her, and say that THIS IS MIDDLE SCHOOL: start rebelling, stop playing with dolls.
If you’re not familiar with the plot of The Paper Bag Princess, basically, it’s your typical fairy tale, but the girl rescues the guy from an evil dragon. The dragon is not slain, but instead, she realizes that the guy is a jerk and doesn’t marry him or rescue him after all. All you really need to know is that there is a princess, a castle and a dragon.
As the girls took the stage, one identified herself as the dragon, the other as the princess with small, typed signs. Here is the conversation:
DRAGON: “Princess, I am here to eat you!”
PRINCESS: “Now that Prince is a jerk, I want to be eaten! EAT ME DRAGON!”
DRAGON: “I will eat you like never before! I will light you on fire!”
PRINCESS: “Oh, Dragon! Please eat me!”
This continued for quite some time, with the girls talking back and forth about the dragon eating her, and with me, crouched over my grading rubrics, tears streaming down my face from laughing.
The play FINALLY wrapped up with the student holding up this little gem of a sign, which I will keep FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER: