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.

Everything’s Coming Up Barcelos!

I’m coming home from an unexpectedly amazing night at Portuguese school and I am finally finishing this blog post so it can get posted tomorrow. A lot of changes have been in the works and I am so stoked to say that I can now go public with them!

New job!

As I mentioned before, This Is My Life in Silicon Valley went beyond my usual audience of friends, friends of friends, and random quidditch people. It found some of the eyeballs I was looking for. They pointed me in the direction of a few writing jobs. I made it through the interview phase of a couple of them and this week I accepted an offer for an editorial internship with a better pay rate than my contract at Google. I start October 3rd and I am psyched to finally be taking what feels like my first steps toward a career, not just a job.

New (volunteer) job!

Speaking of editorial, The Quidditch Post was looking for a new CEO as I was applying for other jobs. I knew I would have to leave my position with USQ if I got it, and as much as I love my region, I couldn’t pass up the chance to have my quidditch life reflect my real one. I may not be West RC for that much longer, but I don’t need a title to tell me what my heart knows: I’ll be #WestTeamMom/Fangirl-in-Chief no matter what. I’ll still be doing NCQC since that is my quidditch labor of love.

New students!

Last year, I peaked at seven or eight students enrolled in my Portuguese class. However, I only really averaged about six kids in my class each week. It was demoralizing sometimes.

It made me remember when I was a kid in Portuguese school. We had four classes of about fifteen to twenty kids each, depending on skill level. I started in the second highest class and worked hard to get int the top class as fast as I could. I went two nights a week for two hours at a time. We used real classrooms at Five Wounds School.

Last year, I started the school year in an exercise room for seniors and ended it in an office since the adult Portuguese class needed the space more. I had to figure out how to teach with fewer resources and less time than I was used to, but I do think I made it work. I loved doing it. I loved the kids. I hated that I had to give it up because I started working at a startup.

It’s a new school year and that startup job is old news. (As much as I’d love to write about that experience, I signed an NDA so that is just not a possibility.) I was so grateful that POSSO wanted me back after my departure. Last week I had five students, one of them absent because they were at their Back to School Night. I planned my lesson for this week thinking that this year would be the same as the last.

Instead, I ended the day with twelve. (My class actually more than doubled, Twitter-self!) Two of them, brothers, are the sons of my catechism teachers that got married some time after I left their Confirmation class. Seeing them and realizing that I was being charged with the cultural education of the children of people my parents entrusted with my spiritual education confirmed (ha, see what I did there?) that no matter what else I do with my life, I should be teaching others and I should be working with the Portuguese community in San Jose. Those are two things that define me and I can never turn my back on that.

(Shameless plug: We’re still accepting new students.)

New domain!

Check it out, I finally ditched my initialslastname.wordpress.com domain name! I spent a good part of last week thinking about what the hell my personal #brand is before putting my money where my online mouth is. It turned into a mini-identity crisis that you’ll get to read about in a blog post later. After working on some projects that’ll need an online home soon, I decided to invest in myself and take the plunge.

After a summer of uncertainty, it feels good to have direction in my life again. Thanks for reading, and I’ll hope you keep reading as I continue heading towards to wherever it is that I’m going.