December 10th [ish — doing this in January, cut me some slack]
In winter at this latitude, the sun sets around 4:40. By the time I get out of the building it is pitch black. I teach from 2:20 to 5:00, or what amounts to the 7th and 8th periods of the middle school’s day, plus time for snack. So when we’re all streaming out of the building it is dark. But not so dark that the students who were a dozen steps in front of me on the path towards the bus couldn’t see who I was. They knew I was a teacher but since they weren’t 8th graders, I don’t have any of them in class. Which is only important because by December most of the 8th graders are aware that I speak Spanish.
Up ahead of me I hear chattering and giggling. Then I hear: “Mira la maestra. Ella no tiene carro.” Followed by a string of giggles. It’s true, I don’t have a car. I was, in fact, headed to the bus.
“I heard that!” I responded, in English.
More giggles and scuttling ensued as they picked up the pace in an embarrassed realization that I can understand every word. Which is an illusion I like to maintain with my Spanish speaking students because, in fact, there are many things in Spanish that I do not understand (particularly curse words — I learned algebra and bio in Spanish, not slang and the crude things that come out of a middle schooler’s mouth). But for the moment, perhaps, these students will spread the word that I really do speak Spanish while I work to catch up on all the lingo.