Students Who Talk Too Much

There I was enjoying a hot summer day full of blogging, pinterest and diet Dew, when I discovered this quote on Pinterest. 

I pinned it, laughed immediately (because "those" dumplings (special friends) who won't stop talking are funny... when it's summer break). I smiled about a few of my favorite dumplings and wondered how they are doing.  Then I remembered Aiko.

It was 6th grade and my class was getting a new student.  Her name was Aiko.  She was from Japan and spoke only a few words of English.  The girls in my class were so excited for her arrival.  We made cards, learned greetings in Japanese and made lists of ways to make her feel comfortable in our classroom.

Day 1 - I'll always remember Aiko's first day in our school.  Her hair was so shiny (I love shiny hair!), her erasers were the envy of every girl in our class and she had a beautiful smile.  I felt like I won the lottery when Mrs. Beasely told me that Aiko would be sitting next to me, because I talk a lot and it would help her learn English.

Day 2 -  I talked a lot (like always).  Aiko stared at me a lot.  She smiled a little, but mostly just stared at me and looked confused.

Day 3 - I talked a lot (more).  Aiko nodded her head when I asked yes/no questions.  Aiko didn't smile much.

Day 4 - I talked a lot (again).  Aiko cried (a lot).  I wanted her to be happy.  We wanted her to like our school.  We also had no idea what was wrong, until the Japanese tutor came to visit her later that afternoon.

The Japanese tutor shared with Mrs. Beasely that Aiko was crying because the girl next to her talked too much.  (OMGoodness - that was me!)  Turns out she wanted to listen to the teacher and learn as much English as possible (from the teacher).  Turns out I wasn't the teacher then, just a student who talked too much.   When Mrs. Beasely told me, I was crushed, embarrassed and quiet for at least 3 minutes.  That night, I made Aiko chocolate chip cookies as a peace offering and I got a new seat the next day.

Aiko and I became friends (she liked my cookies).

Aiko learned a lot of English that year.

I just kept talking most of the year (and all the years after), but was a tiny bit more careful about who I talked to (when we were supposed to be listening).

My teacher aha moment of the day - I WAS (am) ONE OF THOSE DUMPLINGS WHO WILL TALK WHEREVER YOU MOVE ME!  Oy...

Since I'm an expert (in the talking too much department), I have lots of ideas about how to help these dumplings in the classroom (and keep the peace at the same time). For the purpose of my list, I'll affectionately call the student(s) WSTK (won't stop talking kid).

Here are my top 5 ways to handle (help) WSTK...

1. Make WSTK a classroom greeter. He/she greets every child as he/she comes in the door each day. I ask my WSTK to stand close to the morning work basket, so I can still be the official welcome committee as the teacher.
 2. Ask WSTK to go to the office to deliver verbal messages.
3. Give WSTK a personal journal to record their thoughts about the day and let them read it to you at the end of the day. Even if they don't love to write, they do love to hear their own voice. And... I love to read their thoughts.
 4. Ask WSTK to repeat the directions if another student at his/her table needs the directions to be repeated.
 5. Invite WSTK to "talk" with you (the teacher) for the first minute of recess if they've worked hard that day (not as a punishment). It's more like a reward for them - uninterrupted talking time. 

 I'd love to hear your ideas as well.  I'm blogging from the woods on my 15 day camping trip, so my connection is a little shabby at times.  But, I can't wait to hear your ideas.  Please stop by to visit soon.

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