Today was microphone day in first grade. All that was required is to "say your name" in the mic. If you like talking, say your whole name. If you don't, just your first name.
Things progress, as they are wont to do. Children get braver, try some things out. Mostly before they do they stand at the mic and we endure a few seconds of obvious nervous silence. Noah, a quiet, unassuming six year old, is either the master of hiding the nervous in his silence, or he has better timing than most stand up comedians.
He walked to the mic on the stand, put his hand on it and paused. There were titters in room. He was unphased. He paused some more, scanned the room again and in a way that only Steven Wright can understand, said in a near monotone, "what am I doing here?" Kids are giggling. He pauses some more, deadpan, waits for the laughs, and at the exact right moment says "no, seriously...." The room explodes into laughter. I watched Noah learn the power of a captive audience. It was one of the intentionally funniest moments I've ever witnessed involving a first grader.
But wait there's more...
Earlier in the week I began a little unit on Caribbean music. The introduction of this lesson involves viewing some relevant pictures and listening to Harry Belafonte sing The Banana Boat Song. When we listen to new music, I try to guide their listening enough to focus their attention and help them get over the awkward nervousness of not knowing how to respond to something new. Mostly I say "listen and then see what you can say about it."
As the music ended and the discussion began, one student raised his hand and very genuinely, inquisitively and with the appropriate accent on the last word said, "what is a banana?" He wasn't used to hearing accents and just assumed it was a foreign language. I paused. I watched as every single 4th grade brain in the room thought did I miss something? Is this song in English or not? And then as clarity ensued I watched them realize Adrian just asked what a banana was!
It was hilarious. This is my job, people!