Kids say the darnedest things: Part 2

24 Aug

The earlier post reminded me of something that happened to me in my very first year of teaching. I still chuckle when I think about it.

A girl I’ll call K was a student in my Grade 10 FSL class. Most of the students in this class were absolutely new to French and K was no exception. It’s hard to say who K resented more, me for being the French teacher or her parents for insisting that she be in French. I suspect that on a lesson by lesson basis we were mostly tied but I bet I won out over the course of the year.

Our school had a policy at the time that all late assignments automatically be deducted 10% of the final grade. So when K handed in her poster assignment a day after it was due, I did what I always did and made a note of it.

At the end of the following French class I returned the graded poster back to K and off she went to lunch.

Not 5 minutes later she storms into my now empty classroom with a gaggle of her friends (none of whom take French) trailing closely behind her. I’m sitting behind my desk and truly baffled at the scene I see before me: a very angry teenage girl who has clearly brought back up to witness what she perceives as a massive injustice on my part.

It went something like this…

K: (screaming at me while waving the aforementioned poster wildly in the air) IF YOU’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY THEN SAY IT TO MY FACE! DON’T WRITE IT ON MY POSTER!

Me: (sincerely baffled) K, can you please calm down. I have no earthly idea what you’re talking about.

K: YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! WHAT’S THIS THEN, EH? YOU THINK I’M STUPID DON’T YOU. GO ON, ADMIT IT!

At this point she thrusts the poster at me and I see the note I’d made when she handed in the poster a few days earlier. Suddenly, it all becomes clear.

I look up her and her friends. Each of them standing with their arms crossed, heads nodding in unison as if to say ‘Ya, you tell her K!’ The girl is clearly upset and I can now see why. And I’m really wishing at this point that for her sake she hadn’t brought all her friends in to see this because I realize that what’s about to happen next is going to make her look a little foolish.

It’s at this point that I ask, “K, remember that the poster was a day late?”

“Yeah,” she says.

“Well, in French, that’s how we say ‘late’: en retard.

It took a few seconds for it all to sink in before her face dropped and she turned on her heels and made a hasty retreat. No apologies, not a word, nothing. The only thing I heard her utter was a “shut up”  from outside the room as her friends laughed all the way down the hall.

 

 

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