The Nerdy 58-Year-Old Woman (2): Day One of my grammar class

It's OK to be shy.

It's OK to be shy.


OK. I am sure you, my loyal readers, are more interested in what happened yesterday at 4:00 when ten junior high students entered Room 2 for 1.5 hours of grammar instruction than you are say, in the gripping events unfolding in Iran, so I’ll get right to it.

Some description of the students is in order to set the scene.

Instead of an age range of grades 7-9, as the class was advertised, parents sneaked 6th and 10th graders onto the roster.

Having such a range in a class has never bothered me although the big kids usually look at the little kids with curiosity, as one would inspect an odd bug on the wall.

To quell any notion that big kids may have about their class placement, I usually say to the little kid, Hello David, it will be nice to have a boy genius join our class this session.

Of the ten students, three are girls and seven are boys.
Of the ten students, two are outgoing and eight identified themselves as shy, so shy that they couldn’t raise their hands when I asked, It’s OK to be shy, so who is shy?

When I used my arms to create a grammar barometer, with 10 meaning I know my grammar and 0 meaning I don’t know jack, one student signaled 10, one student signaled -2 and the others came in with an average of 5.

My story went over well. The shy students smiled to themselves. Jason, one of the outgoing students, asked if I was the Nerdy 8th Grade Girl. I told him to look up the subjunctive mood in his assigned grammar text.

Tomorrow, if they learn all 53 most used prepositions, so that we can begin to cross out prepositional phrases and get to the meat of each sentence, they will get a treat.

On a feel good note, a little third grade boy on roller shoes has been hanging around our academy door. I invited him in to see the place. Turns out his mother is a cook at a restaurant in our shopping center and since school is out, he has to hang around while she works for a living.

I told him that his luck was good because at that very moment we were offering a special: a free class to any third grader who showed up at 11:30 am.

Robert skated down to the restaurant as fast as he could with a registration form in hand and will be back at 10:15 today to join two other kids whose parents can afford an enrichment class.

He told me he needs work on his writing.

We all do, I said.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
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4 Responses to The Nerdy 58-Year-Old Woman (2): Day One of my grammar class

  1. andreaskluth says:

    “…Tomorrow, if they learn all 53 most used prepositions, so that we can begin to cross out prepositional phrases and get to the meat of each sentence, they will get a treat….”

    I’m increasingly intrigued by this. Are these prepositional phrases what I made fun of in my last comment (previous post) or something else? I’d love to know too.

    Do you have that list of 53 prepositions?

  2. Cheri says:

    Well, let’s dissect your comment:

    This is pedagogic manipulation right through which your students will look and up with which they will not put.

    I think you were trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition (which btw is now considered OK).

    Yes, I have that list of prepositions, but you will have to meet me for coffee someday to get it.

  3. Christopher says:

    This is a wonderful little story. The little boy whose mother is a cook may be from a family without much money (so he is “poor”).

    He wants to be in your class because he has the desire to learn. He may turn out to be a Hemingway or Steinbeck, you never know.

    You should know that when I read your piece, I had to look up “preposition” and “subjunctive” in my dictionary, because I’d forgotten what they meant.

    Being always a “slow learner” (and not too bright) I’ve always found English grammar as a subject to be over my head, as my looking up “preposition” and “subjunctive” attests.

    But, oddly, the grammar in my written stuff was always sufficiently good to satisfy my English teachers. But then, I always loved to read and read.

    Yeah, maybe that was it.

    • Cheri says:

      Fascinating stuff, Christopher.
      We were just talking yesterday about how knowing grammatical terms and knowing usage rules do not necessarily make a good writer, just as knowing all the rules in the driving manual does not make a good driver.

      Your comment above, along with your smooth writing, supports this idea.

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