And whatever admin says, the students enjoy a good sarcastic bit every once in a while too. For example, when Jack (not a common name at all and the only Jack in our whole school, or town for that matter) would not be quiet.
I told him, “Jack, stop talking.”
Innocently, little Jack looked over at me, “Who me?”
And I couldn’t resist, “No, the other Jack.”
Jack stopped talking and looked around the room. It took him a full 20 seconds to burst out, “Hey, I’m the only Jack in here.”
The students laughed and gave him a hard time—and Jack is still fine because of it.
This didn’t work quite as well in the UAE, because when I said, “No, the other Mohammed,” eight other boys in the class would look up and announce, “I’m not talking.”
But one day I had an opportunity to explain sarcasm to my UAE students:
Mohammed was in the wrong seat and I told him, “Mohammed, you need to get to your seat.”
“Ok, teacher,” and slowly Mohammed began to collect his supplies.”
A minute later, Mohammed was still at the wrong place and talking to his friends. “Mohammed, please get to your seat.”
“Ok, ok teacher.”
As Mohammed made his way across the class, he stopped to talk to at least three people. After about two more minutes, I told him again, “Mohammed, please get to your seat.”
“Ok, Ok teacher,” he continued. “Do you need some water?” This is what the boys would ask if they thought I was getting stressed or upset. Apparently, when camels become distraught, water is the antidote.
“Mohammed, I do not need water. I need you to get to your seat.”
“Ok teacher, ok teacher. See, I am at my seat.”
I gushed with enthusiasm, “Wonderful, Mohammed. That is fantastic. That only took you four minutes to get to your assigned seat. Amazing.”
At this, Mohammed sat up straight, tilted his head, and broke into a proud smile. “Thank you, teacher.”
I chuckled, “No, Mohammed, that was sarcasm. I was being sarcastic. Do you know what that means?”
“Sarcasm, teacher? What is this?”
I started slowly, “Well it’s where I’m saying something, but I don’t really mean it. It’s not true.”
Mohammed’s eyes lit up with acknowledgement and he burst out, “Oh, you mean like Christmas?”