Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I am not proud...or am I?

Today while reading Things That Go, my little Ernie had many questions about the tugboat. Having no knowledge of tugboats, I flashed back to my days of teaching first grade.   Tommy Tugboat was the required representation for teaching for the short U sound.  Really?  So fitting and intuitive. Not. Seems odd, like Tommy might better support the "t" sound.  But whatever.  For the introduction of each letter and its sounds, the series provided a picture/icon, a story, and a little chant-ish song to which we refer throughout the year.
For the "uh" sound, the little chanty song went something like this:  When Tommy Tugboat tugs, Tommy grunts "uh"  "uh"  "uh".  First of all, how the fuck is the picture of a tugboat supposed to visually reinforce and call up the short u-sound?  Soooo retarded! 

Teaching from this overly highly scripted Language Arts Series allowed for little no flexibility or fun.  I seized every opportunity  to entertain my first graders and myself without overt deviation.   I did follow the prescribed script exactly.  Because you know, I am a rule follower like that. Nowhere, however did it discourage adopting potentially sexual and inappropriate pitch or rhythm to entertain  oneself and any other non-5 year olds lucky enough to be present on the days in which we studied the short U.  True, "Uh!" is the sound you might make if lifting or pulling a heavy load or in my lesson, feigning the release of some other kind of load.

The script and the tugboat icon were more ridiculous and inappropriate than my behavior.  Oh, and because physical movement reinforces learning, I shared some very cool gestures for tugging and pulling while saying "uh! uh! uh!".... with supporting facial expression.  Anyway, as a master teacher, I was always especially grateful to do my more theatrical version in which "uh"  "uh"  "uh" sounded perhaps more than a little dirty (only though, to one of carnal knowledge).   I charmed more than a few student teachers with my varying renditions of Tommy Tugboat.  Sometimes done slowly"uuuuh uuuuh uuuuh"  and then maybe the next time rapidly "uh!uh!uh!" On one lucky(for my boss) day I performed my Tommy Tugboat routine as my pervy  principal sat admiring observing me. 

For the record, only an adult could suspect what I was doing.  It honestly was harmless because  we were only pretending to lift weights while grunting.  Because, at some point, I may have covered supplemented Tommy Tugboat's picture with one of a weight lifter cartoon guy heaving a massive and bending barbell.   What?  It's far more relatable.


  1. This is why I love you!
    No one could write, or think of a post like this.
    You're amazing, brilliant . . . all that and a bag of gummie bears!!!

    Hysterical story. I can totally picture you all huffy and puffy with your uh, uh, uh 's!!
    I'll never look at that book the same ;)

  2. Did the pervy principle join in? Uh Uh Uh....

  3. Lol!!! Oh the things are children are subjected too ;)

  4. This could be SO MUCH MORE fun with a class of adults! I see hip thrusting.

  5. That explains SOOO much. Another enjoyable (and mildly terrifying) peek into the mind of Magda. Yowza.

  6. I do remember that day in your classroom . . . very funny day =) And when I taught my own class, I did the same thing. Well done, Master teacher! =)


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