Friday, March 26, 2010

A Unique Kind of Helper

Mbungo and a student working on French

I have two classroom assistants that are rather more anthropomorphous than living, breathing animate people. Mbungo, pictured above, works with my first-year classes. He doesn't say much--in fact, he's rather brusque at times--but he's an important part of my students' experience in introductory language. He's their example to use for describing what people look like, what they might be doing or wearing (he often takes clothes from the school's lost-and-found) and lots of other things. In fact, he just finished a tour of the school as part of my class' unit on describing where things are. He's not always center stage but, as you can see, my kids are certainly happy to involve him in their daily goings-on.

He's a hit with a lot of them! One of my Spanish students, seeing he was cold one day, decided to knit him a Harry Potter scarf.

"What Hogwarts house do you think he'd belong to?" she asked.

We couldn't decide, so she made him one of each!

Although the students in my classes are used to him, he does make other (usually grownup) people nervous sometimes. Our school's Executive Director generously allows Mbungo to hang out in his office from time to time, but he asks that Mbungo not actually face his desk.

"He kinda creeps me out." he says.

I think he just doesn't understand.

I'm setting things in place to do a full rewrite of my first- and second-year course materials. I've asked some of my students to help me with this, and they're already talking about how Mbungo figures into things. I'm sure he's excited to be included.

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