I teach second language learners. We are having half days this week. School in the morning, and report cards and parent-teacher conferences in the afternoon. The combination of freedom and stress is a bit distracting to the students. This can lead to unusual language confusions.
The whole school assembles on the playground every morning, weather permitting, and we all salute the flag together. Then we move to our seperate classes in an orderly manner. Fifth graders — being the eldest kids — are last to file off the playground. My class is usually last, period. That is because mine is the closest room and if we left before the others they would have a traffic jam in the hall as we paused to enter our room.
Anyway: the playground was empty save my class. The Principal and Assistant Principal were waiting by the fence for us to pass. Most mornings they offer encouraging words to the students as they walk by. Yesterday my class was standing in two impressively straight lines. I said them them, “Shall we go?” They respond crisply and in unison, “Yes!” I was a bit taken back. This wasn’t something I taught them. Not only that, they didn’t move.
I repeated, “Shall we go?” Again, crisply and in unison they shouted, “Yes!” And again, they remained stationary. I was at a bit of a loss. We now have the undivided and highly amused attention of both of my supervisors, and I am looking impressively ineffectual. Again I said, with perhaps a bit of edge to my voice, “Shall. We. Go?” Even more loudly and emphatically my students shouted, “Yes!”
I closed my eyes, took a slow deep breath, then said very softly, “Well then, move!” My two line leaders looked very startled, said “Oh!” and stepped lively. The rest of the class followed. As we passed by, our waiting school administrators offered their standard morning encouragments, but I couldn’t help notice they did it with smirks on their faces.