Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Don't Speak "Whinese"

Millions of dollars are spent each year on cheesy educational posters.  "Reading is succeeding."  "Attitude is important for success." "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars."  You get the idea.  I'm sure you even have your own favorites.  When I started decorating my classroom, I couldn't help but cave and buy at least two or three.  However, my favorite poster I have ever seen in a school still hangs in the attendance office at my high school.  Where Mrs. Head, the head of the attendance office, proudly displays a poster that boasts "I Don't Speak Whinese."  

Now let me just tell you that part of why I chose to be a teacher is that I love school.  As nerdy or trite as it may sound, I simply enjoy the fact that, for the rest of my life, I will learn something new every single day. If I could be a professional college student, and make money doing it, I probably would make it my career. However, I did not necessarily feel that way in high school.  I took several "personal health days" each quarter.  So much so, during my junior and senior year, that I got a letter with each report card threatening summer school if I continued my "personal health day" trend.  Needless to say, I spent some time in the attendance office "speaking Whinese" while I explained away these "necessary" absences.  

While I may have been a native Whinese speaker in high school, I realized this week that I am no longer fluent in this language as a teacher.  However, it seems to be a language that is widely spoken in the middle school.  In the same way that fluent Spanish-speakers can flip flop between languages, I have students who flip flop between English and Whinese all day.  Whether they forgot their notebook at home or brought their notebook but just can't fathom the effort of writing ONE WHOLE PAGE or they don't want to read or they don't like to read, the amount of Whinese I am trying to translate into English this week seems a little silly.  On Wednesday, a student started to ask me why he had to write so much, and I found myself saying, without skipping a beat, "I'm sorry.  I don't speak Whinese."  And in that moment, I knew I had reached a new plateau in adulthood.  So here's to you Mrs. Head.  Thank you for not speaking Whinese.  I vow to uphold your legacy and hold my students to a higher standard.  No more Whinese in Ms. Herring's room.  It's called English class for a reason.

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