The other day I had the opportunity to teach in an elementary school, and it was my job to fill in for a variety of classes throughout the day. The first class I went in to was pretty rowdy. I think they had several bowlfuls of Captain Crunch before school started. One of the little boys came and showed me a paperback book on The Adventures of Indiana Jones. He asked me if I had ever read it. I said, “I AM Indiana Jones.” LOL. His eyes got wide and he asked, “Really?” Then he declared to the class that I was Indiana Jones! From that moment on, I had their attention.
One little boy asked me if he could have my whip. I said, “No, how would I fight the bad guys if I ran out of bullets?” Then he asked for my hat. I said, “No, how would I keep my head warm? And besides…it makes me look cool.” LOL.
They asked me who was my favorite superhero. I told them Superman. I always wanted to be him when I was growing up. The next thing I know this kid hands me a Superman badge to wear that he had made for me. I proudly wore it over my name badge the rest of the day. I got to be my superhero all day long. How cool was that?
Another class had this girl who was celebrating her birthday. In this class the birthday person wore a tiara (like what you see in beauty pageants). I asked her if I could see it. Immediately a chorus went up from the kids, “Put it ON! Put it ON!” I asked them, “You want to make your teacher look ridiculous?” “Yes!” they shouted. So…I put it on. I forgot they all had IPads with cameras! It sounded like a bunch of paparazzi rushing to get a photo of a star. They were hooting and hollering over that silly photo. Then their regular teacher came back. LOL. She asked me if they had behaved, and I said yes because they really had been good kids. Then they showed her the photo and she laughed too. They got a good photo of her laughing at my picture.
One of the girls I taught that day came to me immediately as the class began and informed me in a whiney voice, “I have a headache.” I looked at her sympathetically and asked back in a whiney voice, “Does it help when you whine?” Her eyes widened, she smiled back at me, laughed, and shook her head no. I asked her if she wanted to go to the Doctor, but she was ok. I suspect she did not get enough sleep or had too much Captain Crunch and was crashing from the Crunch. By the end of the period she was not 100%, but she was at least talking with some of the other kids and feeling better.
Here is what I learned that day:
- To speak with kids, if you want to capture their imagination, talk their language. Whatever it is THEY are interested in, you have to be able to talk about it with them. You don’t have to KNOW about it, just be willing to TALK about it. Of course, if you KNOW about it you have a lot more credibility.
- It is OK to pretend. Kids get that. Adults seem to have lost that gift for the most part.
- Never forget that whatever you do or say is likely to be captured on camera. We live in a digital age, so think before you decide to do something stupid, like wear a tiara.
- If you are sick, don’t whine. In fact, if you are feeling good, don’t whine. Nobody wants to hear it and it does not make others feel sorry for you, so stop it. When a whiner hears someone whine back to them, it IS pretty funny.
- Kids are a lot like old people, they just say what is on their mind. I think that is why I get them.