Paseo Redux

I sent a kid to the principal’s office today. And damn, it felt pretty good.

“Otto” (his middle name) is one very molestoso student. He is constantly causing a ruckus in my tercero básico class, and is generally the instigator of whatever mischief the other students are participating in.

I had tercero básico twice today, so in the first period we talked about the observations we’ve been making using photographs. I told them that we were going to transfer those observation skills to the real world, and practice observing action as it’s happening. This way, we can plan our photos before we take them next week, so they turn out “better.”

I generally really like tercero básico. Their writing was by far the most advanced of my students so far, and with a few seat rearrangements they’re really attentive and participate very well in class. So, I thought they could handle a paseo today.

In the first period, we came up with themes to guide our observations and questions to elaborate on the themes. They came up with some great themes! “Garbage”, “Things being sold”, “Animals”… the questions were along the lines of “where does the garbage in the street come from? when will it be cleaned up? how will it be cleaned up? what sorts of things are being bought and sold? who is buying and selling them?” I was duly impressed.

In the second period we reviewed the rules of conduct in the center, and then set off as a group.

The group I expected to have trouble with ended up being trouble right away. They took off at a run into the market building, throwing things and smacking each other. The group I expected to work thoughtfully did just that. Thankfully, I had made them all leave their backpacks in the classroom, so they had to return eventually!

The three girls in that class are awesome. María is so quick, and Juana and Ana are very hard workers. They stuck with me and did their observations while I read on a bench. They finished a bit early, and bought me french fries! They asked me if I’d ever worn a blusa or corte (the traditional blouse and skirt here) and I told them that no, I hadn’t.

They insisted that tomorrow they are going to bring me a blusa and corte to wear all day!

They would inform me of something in Spanish and then chat between themselves in Chu’j. I could tell they were trying to decide what to do with me! Juana told me that they’d also arrange my hair for me… I replied that yes, I needed a lot of help with my hair! They took a look at my boots and asked if I had any more “feminine” shoes! I’ll have to wear my Chacos, I guess!

Hee hee, a Chu’j makeover…

As we were returning to class, the boys took off running down the street again trying to hit each other and trow things. I told one of them to stop punching the other, and he did. I told Otto to stop throwing rocks. He didn’t. I told him that if he threw one more rock, he’d spend the rest of the day in the director’s office. He threw another rock.

Oh man, I was pissed. My Spanish ability diminishes significantly when I’m excited, laughing hysterically, or angry. I tried to use my 6-inch height advantage to intimidate the kid, but no go. He made a bee-line for his backpack; luckily I was able to herd him into the director’s office before he got to the stairs.

I felt bad leaving him with Gloria, the very nice, somewhat timid secretary, but SuperJulio was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, he returned a few minutes later and promised to talk to Otto about what was going on.


The paseo we did in cuarto today went much more smoothly. I’m afraid that that class really is my favorite. When they’re being little brats, I can’t help but laugh!

And, most of them are very close to my own age, if not a bit older– which they found out today during the round of grilling they gave me. The questions always ALWAYS go in this order:

“What’s your boyfriend’s name?
Why don’t you have a boyfriend?
I think you do have a boyfriend and aren’t telling us!
(followed by numerous attempts to guess my “boyfriend’s” name)
How do you say your name in English?
What’s your mom’s name?
What’s your dad’s name?
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
What are their names?
Are they married?
How old are you?
Why are you leaving in April?
When are you going to come back? ”

We went to the parque central again and practiced “taking photos.” We don’t have all of the cameras gathered together yet, and there certainly aren’t enough for each student to have one anyway, so I passed around pieces of paper with a little viewfinder window cut out.

I explained that we’ve been making observations about other people’s pictures and the world around us using our eyes. Our eyes are round. And– we can use them to look all around us, in all different directions.

The viewfinder of a camera limits what we can see. So, we need to practice limiting our vision in order to decide what we will and won’t include in our pictures.

The idea is that, even after we have the cameras, one student in each group will get to use the camera each day while the others practice composing shots with their viewfinder-papers.

The students got a kick out of it… they walked around with the paper up to their faces and announced “click!” every time they saw me.

The homework was to take three imaginary photos, and describe in words what they could see through the “viewfinder.” Then, they had to draw the scene they had just taken a photo of.

I wonder how many drawings I’ll get of myself tomorrow?!


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