Back when I was first an English teacher, freshly minted from the CELTA course, I was assigned 4 kids classes every Sunday. While I eventually got the hang of these so-called “young learner” classes, the beginnings were rough. I labored and fussed over lesson plans for hours, I scoured the internet for tips on classroom management, I cut and colored and glued and taped activities together. These efforts, however, did little to make up for my lack of experience, training, and confidence. Instinctively sensing my uncertainty and terror, the children tore me and my meticulously planned lessons to shreds. And every Sunday after work, I would collapse on a tiny plastic stool, exhausted, to nurse my wounds with bia hoi and spin my tales of child-inflicted woe to the other teachers present. Mitchell was one of these teachers. He had somehow been blessed by the teaching gods and was assigned no young learner or teen classes at the time. How I envied him. And how he looked upon the mess that was me and thanked his lucky stars that he had avoided such a fate.
That was then. Now, Mitchell has proven to be quite the child whisperer. After a delay, he was eventually assigned kids classes. With some help from his mom who has years of elementary teaching experience and his own magical powers of understanding kids, he’s turned out to be great with the youngins and prefers teaching them to adults. He’s even in charge of a new program at his school for extra young kids (ages 5-6). Part of his job entails creating materials to aid other teachers of young children at his school. He seems to enjoy the creativity that comes from this work and he tries to inject some humor into the work when he can. At times, he gets a little carried away. To the chagrin of an ex-coworker, he used to place images of flying saucers randomly throughout kids workbooks. He makes crazy masks for his kids to play with at story time. He’s developed an obsession with these weird little paper puppet things.
His latest project, however, is my favorite. I begged him to let me write about it. Presenting “Walker, Project Maker”:
For those of you who are unfortunate enough not to be Texan, this is a reference to the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger. Walker is a uh…Texas Ranger who specializes in roundhouse kicks and moral values. Chuck Norris, the star of the show, has inspired an entire genre of jokes. Not jokes, facts like these:
- Chuck once ran a race with light; he waited for 2 years before light crossed the finish line.
- Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
- Chuck Norris doesn’t call the wrong number. You answer the wrong phone.
- When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
- The quickest way to a man’s heart is Chuck Norris’ fist.
Only one man can defeat Chuck Norris: Bruce Lee.
I do feel the need to mention that these books are meant for teachers, not students. Although I imagine the kids would love these images, Mitchell avoids including violent images on kids’ materials. Untwist those panties.
Keep up the good work, Teacha Mitch.