Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Aboard, About, Above, Across, After, Against, Along

For years, I've defined a preposition to children as "anywhere a squirrel can go". It works, they remember it, and it brings me great joy to watch them later as we work through our daily grammar muttering "the squirrel can go..." as they work.

And now, two weeks later, I can tell you why I might stop using this trick because it may both creep me out and cause me to convulse in laughter.

I will tell you the story and since this is an edu-blog, prepositions will be in boldface.

So the Widdah Educat (she's a widdah, but a young and vibrant one) calls me at 1:45 one morning near tears.

"I need you, I need your help!'


"I need you, There's a squirrel in my bedroom and itranacrossmybedandwokemeupandIneedhelpchasingitOUT!!!"

I gather myself and go to her house to find her standing on her bed with a broom, poised for battle. It took an hour of coaxing and crouching in wait, followed by manic screaming and chasing (at one point he jumped on her--she did quite a dance) to get him out the door.

We stood silently panting in fear after he left. I seriously waited for a second with the very sleepy misguided thought of giving him a head start. I honestly believed he'd be waiting in the dark by my car to finish inflicting the terror he had started.

...and now, I'll stop with the prepositions and reflect.

So today, I found myself explaining prepositions to one of my afterschool tutoring kids and couldn't stop laughing. I had to tell her the story and we found ourselves testing the theory and laughing...

"The squirrel woke my mother up when he ran across the bed!!!!"
"He hid in the corner behind the footstool!"
"He jumped off the TV cabinet and onto my mother!!!"

Since the night of the living squirrel, I've been regaled with more stories that I can shake a stick at. I was reminded of Senora Crib's brush with a raccoon (we share the broom as a weapon of choice) and another co worker/blog reader shared her deep dark fear that she shares her home with a raccoon (Hi, M! How's the crawl space?). It was the courage of these story tellers along with a post by Dooce that finally gave me the strength to tell my story.

I'm Educat. I've chased a squirrel with a broom in the middle of the night and I teach prepositions.


Shel said...

I tutor reading and English a couple of afternoons a week to keep the mommy brain away. I taught 7th graders and HS before kids. Prepositions must be universally tough to get since I've explained them over and over to the same kids. I printed out your post and I am going to share it with my teaching partner. She isn't online so I can't send it to her. It's perfect. You don't have a funny story about verb tenses do you? We're having trouble with progressive tense.

Sandi said...

I know I haven't posted to you and forever but this one reminded me so much of the summer we spent chasing bats out of Hubbard House in Northampton.

And I look on those days fondly, for some reason.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Stand proud with that broom, sistah!

Yume said...

I was actually taught a proposition song in high school. Here I am, six years later, and I remember the song, but not what it was for. Thank you for your amusing and memorable story.
who knows... maybe it could help when I become a future English teacher ;)