Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ups and Downs

There are a lot of ups and down at school with some days better than others. I sometimes have a hard time with one of my sixth grade classes. They seem to have a very short attention span and like to talk during class. I have developed new tactics to get them to pay more attention. I spend more time quizzing them on what they’re learning than the other classes and often go individually to kids who don’t seem to be paying attention to quiz them. I try to make the pace of the class is a little faster but I do a lot of reviewing what we’ve learned. If I think they’re really getting wild I’ll speak to them only in English. They stare at my with this blank expression and then it quiets down pretty quickly.

Now, I know there are immersion classes in the states to get kids to learn Spanish and in many other countries English classes are taught mostly in English. My sister is in Japan right now teaching English and most of her teaching is in English. I would someday love to have my (future) children enrolled in a Spanish immersion class. I think it would be successful and they would learn a ton. But for some reason, I don’t see an English immersion class working very well here. The rhythm and learning style of school is so different than in the US. I could be wrong, but it’s something I’d want to research before attempting to implement it.

My third grade class definitely needs more one-on-one attention than my other classes mainly because they’re younger and some of them write much slower than the others. I don’t want to go too fast for the kids who take more time to write things, but I also don’t want a majority of other kids waiting around for the next topic. This is something that’s a struggle in all my classes. Like everything else in life there are inevitably one or two people that catch on quicker than the others. I do my best to go at a pace that works for the entire class. I walk around to personally help the kids who are struggling and create little challenges for those who work faster. This isn’t always easy to do because most of my classes have 35 or 40 kids, but I like to try.

I love all the kids regardless of where they are in their learning process. Growing up I was never the “smart kid” or “teacher’s pet” so I work hard to pay attention to every child: the class clown, the quiet kid sitting at the back of the room, the smart kid, the bully, the kid who walks in late, everyone. Positive reinforcement is very successful when it is used. I like to be sure I tell them all what a good job they are doing and smile at each child at least once during the class. To me, all children are gifted and talented.

I never know what to expect when I walk into the school. Each day is a new and different adventure. The fourth grade teach wasn’t there today so I left after my fourth period class. However, the seventh grade teacher was there in the afternoon today. I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled about working with the older kids at first. I’ve never been particularly fond of middle school kids even when I was that age. They often seem to have an attitude problem so I was hesitant to work with them here. But it’s worked out better than I could have hoped. They are quiet, listen well, show respect, and are a pretty fun class. For that I am very grateful.

I had an out of the ordinary and somewhat disturbing experience during my other sixth grade class. Before the bell rang the teacher walked into the classroom and went over to some kid’s desks. She had them open their notebooks and look inside them. I saw some kind of drawing and writing in them. At first I thought it was something the kids had drawn for her or me because she was looking at me and tore the pages out of the notebooks. Then she looked in some more kid’s notebooks. She finally came over to me and showed me the four pages she’d torn out. It was an oración (prayer) that was very dark. From what I could understand it talked about harming themselves and committing suicide. As soon as I read it I thought about a girl here in town who committed suicide a week ago.

The teacher, Maria, was understandably upset. I don’t know if the kids wrote this seriously or if it was something they wrote just for the heck of it. Either way, it was scary. After class Maria reiterated to me that what they were doing was very bad and she would be talking to their parents. I think this is demonstrates that kids of the ages all over the world struggle with problems. The same situation could have and has happened in the US. I pray they did not mean what they wrote and that nothing bad will happen to them.

After school was out I walked around the market a little. I like being out in the town and walking helps to clear my head. On one street there were several additional vendors set up selling fruit and vegetables which was unusual because it was not a big market day today. I saw a kind of mango that I’d never had before so I bought it. I looked through some things thinking about what I might like to get my students before I leave as a little treat.

I walked by one little girl who couldn’t have been more than a two years old. She was dirty and barefoot and looked up at me when I walked by. She said “ratón” to me and pointed down beside her. There was a little dead mouse in a box next to her. At the moment everything stopped and it seemed like the whole world was sad. It has been a hard day.

I found this prayer for children and thought I’d share it here:

We pray for the children
who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who never "counted potatoes,"
who are born in places where we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for the children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

And we pray for those
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find bread to steal,
who don't have rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We Pray for the Children
who spend their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
who never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at and
whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything,
Who have never seen dentist,
Who aren't spoiled by anybody,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being

We pray for the children
Who want to be carried and for those who must,
Who we never give up on and for those who don't get a second chance.

We pray for those we smother and for those who will grab the hand of
anybody kind enough to offer it.

1 comment:

Matt said...

That is a really moving prayer. I'm glad you posted it. I think your experiences can serve as a reminder of what is really important in the world.