Politeness Girl

Posted on December 18, 2008Filed Under class size, Seventh Grade Behavior, Teaching | Leave a Comment

One of my classes has only 20 students. That’s right on the verge of being too small for me. I had a class one year that, through attrition and other issues, was down to 12 by February. Not a beautiful thing. One: without enough voices and ideas, discussions are very hard to get going. Instead of eliciting ideas, I have to provide too many. Two: when there are that few, they seem to get the idea that class is like some family dinner, where they can just jabber out and “share” and not bother to raise hands and such. They drive me batty. That same year I had 12, I also had a class of 34. That class was nearly silent, and the Gang of 12 required the Quiet Stick almost daily. The upside is the greatly reduced paper load. This is nothing to sneeze at, but I like 20-25 in a class better.

As I have said before, I don’t usually have a favorite class (although, now and then there is a least favorite). Most years, most classes have their own “endearing” qualities. I usually have a nickname for each period, although I never tell them their own nickname, and I make up alternate names, or use the same one for more than one, so they are always trying to guess which class I’m talking about.

“But which class is your favorite?”

“You’re all so ‘special’ I just can’t pick.”

This year I have (in no particular order): the Homies, the You’ll be the Death of Me’s, the (Out to) Lunch Bunch, the Silent Ones, and the Friendly Class. The nicknames should speak for themselves. I have to say, the Friendly Class is my fave this year. They are always happy to be there, they are supportive of each other, they really get into the characters in the books, and they’re a little sensitive. In fact, I just searched all my old posts and found that this class is the source of some of my best material. Maybe it’s because the class is 2/3 girls. Maybe it’s because they’re the class of 20.  I think mostly it’s because they have Politeness Girl.

(Not to be confused with the cartoon “super hero” Politenessman, the guy with the steel hankie.)

The best way to describe her is by quoting her. Picture a spring in her step and a smile on her face as well. Every day. Always. And every line is spoken with the most genuine sincerity. Really. (If some of these quotes look familiar, well like I said, this is the source of some of my best shtuff.)

On me announcing that henceforth, a score of less than 70% will land you in detention for a week.
“Thank you for helping us do better.”

During a discussion about Pony and Darry’s relationship in The Outsiders.
“It’s all about the love then.”

On Dally and Johnny.
“Aww that’s so sweet, he doesn’t want Johnny to be like him.”

On the new seating chart.
“I really like my new seat. Thank you. I like being in front.”

On me handing the vocabulary lists down the rows.
“Thank you so much.”

On Johnny and Pony hopping the freight to Windrixville.
“How cute, like hobos.”

Upon entering the room one day.
“Don’t I just remind you of yellow? All sunny and bright and cheerful?”

After I used another student’s name and hers for a grammar sentence (Joey knitted Maureen some nice booties for Christmas.)
“That’s so nice, thank you Joey.”

“You do realize, Maureen, that Joey didn’t really knit you booties?”

“I know, but still…that’s so sweet. Thanks Joey.”

Her answer after I asked her if she has ever been angry at anyone.
“I was mad at myself once when I did bad on a test. And I get mad when people are mean.”

To the lunch ladies.
“Everything looks so good Greta, I’ll have the salad, please. Thank you so much.”

On the bailiff ‘s wife in The Midwife’s Apprentice naming the baby Alyce delivered after her.
“Awww, that is so cute, I think Alyce would be a great mother. Thanks for picking this book.”

On rain.
“I just love the rain.”

On wind.
“Aren’t windy days just so refreshing?”

At the beginning of every period.
“Hello, how are you today?”

At the end of every period.
“Thank you.”

No, thank you.

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