It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that I was not looking forward to going to class again after the disaster that was Monday.
At the same time, I mercifully was so miserable about how it turned out that I was also coasting on complete apathy.
I was exhausted from anxiety and a second night of insomnia in a row (srsly, insomnia, you are such a jerk). The night before I’d sent out a panicked distress signal to any and all friends who might have the first Harry Potter movie. Thankfully a couple came through and sent it via Google Drive, including one Brit who asked me later if I had only asked him because he’s from England and I was stereotyping?! (I told him later that it hadn’t crossed my mind, but now he mentioned it, he did fulfill the stereotype perfectly!)
Never having used Google Drive before, I couldn’t be sure that it would work, but at least I had a better chance than yesterday. Got to school early to check it out and AH IT DOWNLOADS!! Thank god because I’d promised the kids we’d have the movie today. Note: it is unwise to promise children something unless you’re 138% positive that you *can* deliver. Children, like elephants, never forget.
Set everything else up on the desk and felt mightily more prepared than yesterday’s lesson. On the schedule for today:
– play with baking soda and vinegar
– have a contest of who can make the biggest balloon after putting vinegar and baking soda into a bottle and afixing the balloon to the top
– make ice cream (hey, it involves mixing and chemistry!)
In all, a pretty fun lesson. But my confidence was shot.
“Hey, sulker,” said reality to me. “Nothing for it though but to keep swimming.”
And swim I did.
Kids started filing in. I welcomed them. Waited til quarter after for the late ones to file in (and also because I was buying time til the end of class). Started with the powerpoint – made a much bigger effort to go through it slowly, making sure they understood what I was saying, which looking back was probably the best idea I had all camp. By the end of the week (not to be all spoiler-y) –
– I had miraculously broken down the language barrier by about 60-75%. Soooooooooo satisfying to be able to communicate with these kids.
I will briefly interlude the first week with a comparison of the second week now. The main difference between the two isn’t the class size, age group, or skill level – but rather that I have a co-teacher with me. The kids do not even attempt to listen to me. Anything I say, anything I do, they look to her for translation. It’s nothing to do with the co-teacher herself, but just the fact of having one there at all; the kids use her as a crutch.
After having made such good progress with the first group and having got the hang of class discipline (if I do say so myself), to move to a group who neither has the will to listen nor the will to respect what I ask of them…well, it was exceedingly frustrating. And hey, maybe it wasn’t just the kids using her as a crutch; often when they were running wild around the classroom, I would look to her in exasperation. While I didn’t always mean this as a, “Can you step in?”, she often interpreted it in that way. As such my management of the classroom during the second week is a story of disappointment.
What wasn’t a disappointment, however, to jump back to Potions the first week, was the way the class went. The kids were at first skeptical (with good reason) of our activity, but as soon as I demonstrated the fizzing/exploding reaction, they were all too keen.
Twenty minutes and a Noah’s Arc flood’s worth of vinegar overflowing onto the floor later, the kids were already smiling more than they had cumulatively throughout the whole of the day prior. I didn’t get any pictures from the 5/6’s, but I did from the 3/4’s.
For some reason the 3/4’s didn’t enjoy it as much as the 5/6’s though, which I can’t fathom except for any other reason than the 5/6’s had expectations beginning at sub-zero. Just not playing powerpoint games surpassed them.
Actually it was around Potions class in week 2 that I realized the 3/4’s were not going to be as much fun as the 5/6’s (sorry, kids! Nothing personal). Sadly there were about three Debbie Downers – complete wet rags, if I’m to be perfectly frank – who straight up refused to take part in 90% of the activities. Be this because they were “too cool”, the activities were “totally lame”, or they’re just literally a clustering of bad personalities, it definitely took its toll on general class enthusiasm. While a handful of super-excited students were bouncing in their seats, enthralled by whatever game or activity I had them engaged in, the Debbie Downers – DD’s we’ll call them – were sitting in their seats with a can you please just move on with it already? look on their collective sagging face.
Shame, really. Though I guess it’s karma for that time I myself was a kid at a camp activity thing in Bon Echo and refused to take part because “I hated Harry Potter!!!” (This was before I’d read them, because I’d been refusing to on the grounds that they were “too popular”. Hipster at 9 years old).
Anyhow, grade 5/6’s were quite enthusiastic by the time the ice cream activity rolled around. Most of them had guessed that it *was* ice cream we were making, despite me not confirming either way if this was the end result. Because of this, they were willing to overlook the fact that they were freezing their hands shaking the plastic bags of ice cubes.
Grade 3/4’s, on the other hand, were like, “Fuck this shit, ice cream ain’t worth it.”
In fact, by the time the 3/4’s actually ate their ice cream, they seemed to have already lost interest (what?! I know. I’m not joking). That and my lack of giving them personal cups put them off. For my 5/6’s, they happily spooned their dessert straight from the bag, but…I don’t know! The 3/4’s were a tricky bunch to please. Though for the most part they seemed to like it, there was one group didn’t even finish their bag of ice cream *sadface*.
That was all fixed when I had them play a game after the movie, though, which they thoroughly enjoyed (yay sugar rush!). I didn’t actually think we were going to have time left over, but the clock fooled me by being more than half an hour off! Luckily, I thought of Marco Polo. Easy instructions with just enough kids to play it!
I tired them out for 20 minutes of playing (not that they wanted to stop!) and then had them run outside for a five minute break to cool off. The kids begged me to take a picture of them clambered atop the mighty jungle gym!
There was only one casualty in the playground – a girl who hit the back of her head. No idea how! But she was in tears and I escorted her back inside. Despite that though, everyone left happy and it was a successful day.
As for my 5/6’s, it was timed perfectly so that when they finished making their ice cream, I had the movie primed and ready to go and they had movie and ice cream. I’ve never seen kids sit so quietly.
Granted, I had a little mishap with the movie again (subtitles stopped halfway through), but it came right at the end of class so it ended up working out like a masterplan!
When it was time to go, the girl who’d stayed behind the class prior to give me the look of utter disappointment said instead before leaving, “Teacher good!! Good job!”
And it turns out there’s nothing quite like the approval of a kid who you’ve worked your ass off to entertain telling you you did a good job.
Went home and slept soundly.