Sparky, Part One 6:15 p.m. 2003-09-15

Current Listening: Three Weeks in Paris by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Current Reading:Diary of an American Au Pair by Marjorie Leet Ford
Recipe of the Day: Restaurants I want to visit...
Daily Quote:
John Crichton: Sparky! How's my favorite Hynerian?
[Rygel can't speak] -Farscape

K: Real good there Sparky.
J: Sparky? What happened to Slick?
K: You're going to have to work your way back up to Slick. -Men In Black: The Series

Nora: I got one for ya: what do you call a dog with no legs and steel testicles? Sparky! -The Naked Truth

C.J. Cregg: I have the ancient curse of Bast, on me, OK? So back off, Sparky. -The West Wing

Genie: Okay, Sparky, here's the deal: You wanna court the little lady, ya gotta be a straight shooter, do ya got it? -Aladdin

Andie: Hey, listen, Sparky. I have a masters in journalism from Columbia, my boss loves me, and if I do it her way for a while, I can write about whatever I want. -How to Lose a Guy in Seven Days

Sparky: Follow me or perish, sweater monkeys.

Here's the deal: I call my students "Sparky." I started this at the end of last year, and it kind of caught on. Most of my students thought it was funny. Actually, I would say that, last year, all of my students (except for one, and he didn't ever think anything was funny...) got a kick out of it.

So, here it is: a new year. I am used to using it - I think that it's fun. But, this year, I have not got the brightest bulbs in the make-up mirror (student-wise, I mean). I have a group of four girls in my middle block, and two of them are, um, how do I say this: not smart. They are also rude - interrupting, saying "yup" and "nope" and basically feeling comfortable telling me, the teacher, how it's going to be.

That's not okay.

Interestingly enough, they are also the ones who object the most to the nickname "Sparky." It is not like I am singling out one of them and blessing her with a specific name (say, Dumbass, or Rudie?). And, yes, I have learned not to compare them to dogs... Heavens, no! But that seems to be the way it is with kids today: the ones that think that they are owed the most respect are the ones that give you the least. I don't get that.

I also realize that it exhibits their limitations - they are obviously people without an imaginative, creative, free sense of humor. But they would be the first to laugh if someone told a story, say, about their dog dying (true example...).

They are middle-schoolers.

So, today begins my Sparky Awareness* Program. Tomorrow, we are reading something about families, and the next day, we are going to read about names. Here's where the *SAP kicks in. I am putting together a little informative reading about what a nickname is, and giving some stories behind some famous "Sparkies."

Did you know that Charles Schultz (of Peanuts fame) was known by his friends as "Sparky"? I have also found an explanation of George "Sparky" Anderson's nickname. I am still doing my research. I plan to also define "nickname" and "spark" and "sparky"... I may also have to explain what a SPORK is...

One can't be too careful these days!

(In case you are wondering, I am not going to tell my students the joke about the dog with no legs and steel testicle... Do you think I have no judgement?)

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