How Professora Nearly Ruined Christmas

This year’s Portuguese class skews relatively young. Last year, my class ranged from 3rd graders to 6th graders. This year, it’s more like 1st through 5th grade. That wider gap in age and cognitive ability, combined with the fact that half of my class is new while the other half is in their second year with me, has made for some challenges in classroom management and lesson planning.

That being said, I think I’m doing okay. I had a close call this month, though. Professora nearly ruined Christmas.

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Oh man, it’s been just over a month since I posted. I swear I haven’t been lazy. If anything, it’s been the opposite problem. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to in the last month:

  • Portuguese school started again!
  • I joined the board of the Silicon Valley Portuguese Education and Culture Foundation.
  • I traded in being a non-playing manager for the Argonauts for being a playing manager of the Skrewts.
  • I started coaching SJSU Spartan Quidditch.
  • I returned to NCQC after applying unopposed for the community commissioner position.
  • Oh, and the day after I flew home from the MLQ Championship, I started working at the Los Altos Town Crier as a reporter covering schools as well as business and real estate.

Phew, just looking at that list is exhausting. It’s mostly been the last thing on that list that’s been keeping me from blogging. I’m definitely writing, just not necessarily here.

It’s taken me about a month to (mostly) bury my impostor syndrome and get used to working at the pace of a weekly print newspaper instead of a purely digital publication, but I think I’ve got it under control. Mostly. I have moments sometimes where I feel like I’m punching above my weight class, but let’s save that for another post.

I’ve decided to update my blogging schedule (yes, again) and not let all this content I’m creating elsewhere go to waste. I still want to write two original posts a week. Those will be published on Mondays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, I’ll be linking to my stories in the Town Crier, and most likely giving a little background info on one or two of them.

Spoiler alert: I am pretty damn proud of something I wrote for this week’s paper. Come back Wednesday and check it out.

Barcelos Knows turned one sometime in the last month; I only know that because got billed for another year of owning this domain. A year ago I was struggling with unemployment and wondering if I’d ever make it professionally as a writer. I’ve gone from intern to blogger to reporter in that time, with a few relapses into funemployment sprinkled in there, but that mostly upward trajectory wasn’t all my doing. There was a lot of luck involved, but also the support of you, my readers.

Every time you tell me about something I’ve written, in person or in the comments section, helps validate me and what I’m trying to do with my life. That’s kept me going when I’ve felt like quitting, which has been more often than I care to admit. Thanks for sticking with me as I continue to figure myself out. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of your support.

Poetry with Professora Elizabeth: Mar Português

With the end of Portuguese school in sight and a class full of students with a decent grasp on how to work with regular verbs in the present tense, I decided to take a break from this spring’s conjugation gauntlet and instead expose them to Portuguese as it’s seen in the wild. No more textbooks; it’s time for real Portuguese words written by real Portuguese people for real Portuguese people.

Today’s the last day of Portuguese school for the year. Check out my class’s first foray in Portuguese poetry, A Cozinha da Avô. In honor of Fernando Pessoa’s birthday, today I’m sharing our class’s journey to understanding “Mar Português.”

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Poetry with Professora Elizabeth: A Cozinha da Avo

Portuguese school is coming to an end for the year. After driving my children through the gauntlet of conjugating -ar, -er, and -ir verbs (along with the lonely pôr, the only -or verb) in the present tense, I wanted to take it easy for the remaining weeks.

Then I got a text message from the preschool teacher.

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Professora Elizabeth and the Carnation Revolution

Most days, I’m happy if my Portuguese students retain enough from the one night a week I have with them to be able to speak to their grandparents. I hope that they remember how conjugation works for when they take other foreign languages. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I have a few that fall in love with the language like I did.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday, I terrified them. Then, I made them think.

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The Darkest Timeline: Day 7

At this time a week ago, I still thought Hillary Clinton was going to be president. I told my students as much, because while everyone else was watching the trainwreck was last week’s election results, I was trying to teach my students Portuguese adjectives have to be pluralized alongside their verb.

I say trying, because this is what really happened:

Unholy Terrors.jpg

As much as my kids needed to be doing more writing, that’s not the way I wanted it to do it. It was a punishment. Learning should never be a punishment. I put work into making my lessons interesting. I loved Portuguese school and I want my students to, too. (Or if they don’t love it, at least they don’t hate it and can say a few words to their grandparents.)

The one good thing about throwing out my lesson plan last week is that I can use it today. That’s not to say that I’m not doing any planning for today. If anything, this has been the hardest time I’ve ever had preparing for a class. Breaking down grammar is easy; breaking down what happened last week is harder.

Luckily for me, I’ve been watching, listening to, and reading about how other teachers, parents, and Responsible Adults™ have tried to explain what happened last week to the children they’re responsible for. (Reza Aslan and Jessica Jackley’s op-ed is the best of the bunch.) Another thing I lucked out on is that these kids have teachers, parents, and Responsible Adults™ they see more than just once a week that have already helped them cope with this world we didn’t realize we were living in.

They’re going to ask about it, though. These are kids that talked about moving to Portugal if Trump won, not realizing what that meant. (I’m going to make an appointment to get my Portuguese passport, so I can’t say that I blame them.) They didn’t understand how he had gotten this far. He was mean. He said nasty things. Depending on who you ask, the things he said about Hispanics and Latinos were pointed at us as Portuguese people. It was scary that it was close but they all wanted Hillary to win.

I hate to say it, but I think my job today is to address that a bad thing happened, that it’s up to all of us to be better that the man who won the Electoral College, and then to move on to pluralizing adjectives.

I only have an hour a week with them. There’s only so much I can do.