Tales of a Second-Grade Mentor

PHOTO COURTESY | US AIR FORCE
Second grade now has iPads, dabbing dances and eyes for the weakest mentor.

Over the past few weeks, I have found the single greatest form of entertainment — second-graders. They are sweet and say just about anything on their minds like a friend who has had one too many.

Through North Dakota State’s engineering department, I will be mentoring second-graders in math for the remainder of the semester. I have a bet that I can teach them calculus, so I have to keep you all updated on that adventure. So far, I haven’t made much progress teaching them limits.

Given this opportunity, it would only be appropriate to report on how second grade is nowadays. A lot has changed since we were in second grade. For most of us in college now, second grade was before cell phones were everywhere and our favorite activity when we got home wasn’t an iPad, but rather going outside and eating yogurt from a plastic tube.

As for the class of 2028, that isn’t so much the case. Life is very different now. They ‘dab’ in class now.

By golly, by golly, they know the F-word

“When I was their age I thought the F-word was fart.” -Teacher of the classroom.

The teacher who leads this class has been teaching for over 20 years. That would mean that she has been working long enough for some of you to have had her if you are from the Fargo area.

This past week, there was a verbal disagreement at the school between a girl and a boy; I think it may have been over a coloring assignment. Well, one thing led to another before this was spoken,

“Shut the f— up.”

I was taken aback, surprised by the diction and shocked by the delivery. Not even trying to hide it, no, very loud and it just peppered the room with a strange feeling.

Hearing an 8-year-old drop the F-bomb gives me a mixed feeling. Kind of like mixing beer and Sprite — it just shouldn’t be done.

They talk about everything under the sun

The main thing that is different about second-graders and college students is that they have absolutely no filter. They will tell you just about anything.

I was told the following:

“Are you a girl? Because you look like a girl.” It was because I have long hair, and having to hold the tears back was life changing.

I was also asked by another boy how long it took me to grow my hair because he thought it was cool to have long hair. Obviously, I am a trendsetter.

They also tell me things about their home life, including when their moms and dads get home at night for dinner and what their favorite meme is.

They are sincere

For most people, asking someone for help isn’t the easiest thing to do. Raising your hand and asking a professor for clarification is something that scares the ever-living daylights out of me.

Not these kids. They love help. They even sometimes get more than help.

The best scene to see is when a second-grader is attempting to be sneaky and cheat on an assignment. How are you supposed to stop 20 or so 8-year-olds? Mad respect to all elementary education majors out there.

It is even better when they report on others cheating, even after they openly cheated. There is no justice with these kids.

While they might cheat, they also want help with numbers. I can’t imagine not knowing how to tell time or how to count my stacks of cash from writing for you people.

One student was very interested in my help. He walked all the way across the room to grab me by the hand and lead me to his chair to read him his favorite book.

Through the first few weeks, I have garnered a decent amount of talking material for my grandmother, who, bless her heart, was a special education instructor.

I have also gained a new respect for the Minions movies following several intense conversations with a couple of the students.

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