(This story is the continuation of yesterday's Part I. If you haven't already done so, you might want to read Part I first so that this makes more sense.)
The school called me yesterday morning to teach Spanish. Although in the past on my blog I have joked about my dismal lack of foreign language skills, in reality I am actually fluent (claro que si) in Spanish and have no trouble teaching it. (Come on, I studied it for six years in high school and college, travelled extensively in Spain, and lived in California most of my life.) I bounced into school thinking, What a perfect easy day!
Would the regular teacher have me conjugating the future perfect tense of –ar verbs with the students? Would we be writing essays about what we did last weekend in the preterite tense? Would I be quizzing them on new vocabulary words, such as useful words to say in airports? Would we be discussing the differences between por and para? No matter: I was mentally prepared.
I got there 15 minutes early and looked over the lesson plans. Imagine my crestfallen reaction when I saw lesson plans that may or may not have said, “Distribute worksheets. Students will work independently for first half hour. Last half hour, play video.” The same lesson for all six classes.
I picked up the video in question, which may or may not have been about a certain cartoon chicken name Guermo and his adventures with his farmyard friends. I read the back of the video box, and it looked (truly) like a wonderful teaching aid. I was impressed with the high quality of the worksheets and the video.
The problem was, even though I am gifted in Spanish (so much so that a little girl in my third class who may or may not have been Hispanic and may or may not have been born a native speaker, may or may not have said to me, “Your accent is fantástico! Did you learn Spanish or did you just speak it?”), I am not gifted in technology. I did not know how to work the video recorder.
I was becoming worried that this might be an issue. I had only 10 minutes to figure it out before the students arrived, I needed to focus. I turned the power on, always a good start. I put the tape in. I forgot to rewind the tape (this would haunt me later). Then I pressed “Play.” The Spanish Gods of Educación and Buena Suerte were smiling on me, because it started playing immediately. I could see and hear the happy chicken making little pollo jokes and teaching new vocab words along the way. I breathed a (premature) sigh of relief.
The first class of students arrived on time. Here comes the CIA (Confidentiality Information Agreement) part. So I will say, the students were perfect angels—smart, happy, quiet—and they did their work; they all deserve A+’s.
Now comes the part I can write about. We were finished with the worksheets, so I pressed “Play” on the video.
Remember, I had just tried it, I knew it worked. But now, nothing. Just black. Then, a neon blue screen of blank nothingness. Then a very unhelpful menu screen. Things were deteriorating from mal to peor.
to be continued ...