Last week was a pretty good week, but I noticed that I had a pretty strong habit of blurting emerging in about four of the six classes I teach. I don’t address blurting directly in my classroom rules, but hint at it indirectly, so today I decided to directly address it through having the students talk to me about tagging.
By tagging, I don’t mean the Facebook practice of labeling photos, but rather the graffiti practice of spray painting initials, sayings, etc. around on other things. I asked them the following questions:
Why do people do tagging? (To mark their territory, make a statement, be noticed, express themselves, etc.)
Is tagging vandalism or art? (Answers both ways, mostly depending on permission).
After a fairly lively discussion on these points, I then pointed out to them that for me, blurting out answers or comments in English is a form of verbal tagging. I’m up here trying to paint a mural for them in German using words, and if you come in making your comments to mark your territory or appear clever without doing the work of putting it in German, it’s like spray painting all over what I’m trying to do.
I was also quick to point out that I find some responses very clever–just like a work of art–and they amuse me to no end. But if the comment is in English, it is somebody tagging my German mural rather than becoming a part of it.
I don’t know how well this will stick, but the metaphor works for me, and it’s how I’m going to whack at this particular mole this semester.