I’m still going through my photos. I’ve just hit the arrival of Luna and I am in pieces over how utterly adorable she was. I mean, puppies are always adorable but she was so unbelievably delightful I don’t know how on earth I managed to do anything but sit there and ‘awwwww’ over her cuteness twenty-four hours a day. And Soren, with his hair and his sass at that poin…I can’t get enough photos of him.
It’s Friday night and Emma and Troy are out at hockey, Nicholai is out at a football vote count, and Jericho and Soren are in bed and asleep, so it’s just me and the dog. Who is also asleep, might I add. I haven’t even turned on the tv, I’m just enjoying the silence.
I stayed at school this morning for the two puppetry lessons. We started on the papier-mache, doing a layer of paper towel first and then a layer of newspaper. Paper and glue doesn’t stick to tinfoil very well, but apparently the paper towel helps that, and then makes it easier to pull all the tinfoil out of the finished shape. However gluing small pieces of paper towel to scrunched up tinfoil head shapes is quite difficult, and a lot of the kids had trouble with it so there was some frustration today.
Jericho was one of the ones who had trouble with it. Honestly, after today I don’t even know if it’s a good thing I’m there for his lesson or if I should just stay away. His anxiety over doing it ‘right’ and whether or not it’s going to look the way he wants it too is severe enough that he seems to find the whole experience completely unenjoyable. And since I’m sitting right there beside him, he takes it out on me with lots of frantic, angry statements about how stupid it is and how he can’t do it, and how his puppet is going to look terrible. I think he wants me to do something about it, but anything I say just causes him to snap back, or argue, or become even more stressed out. It’s exhausting, and it’s preventing this from being an enjoyable activity for us to do together. He really needs to relax about the process and accept that it IS a process – it’s about being creative and trying something new, not about producing a perfect, professional grade puppet. He has so many really interesting and creative ideas, but he is such a perfectionist that he can’t enjoy them because he’s only happy if the result matches exactly what he saw in his head. (Well, gosh golly gee, where did he get that trait from, Rebecca???)
I don’t want to just stop going though. I mean, it should be a fun activity for us to do together, a way of me sharing part of his school day with him and showing him that I really do value what he does and encouraging him in his creative endeavours. I’d really like to figure out some way of doing it so that it achieves these aims, rather than just throw up my hands and give the whole thing up. Also because I do it with Soren too, and I think it has the same benefits for him as I’m hoping for with Jericho, and I can hardly ditch Jericho’s class and still go to Soren’s class. Plus, I do my actual puppet making with Jericho’s class and spend a lot of the time in Soren’s class helping all the kids with their puppets, since they’re younger and need more help. I know Kylie appreciates the help and I don’t want to leave her in the lurch. I might try and have a word with Jericho’s teacher next week and see what she suggests, she’s been very good about dealing with his anxiety and might have some ideas. (And it makes me wonder about whether he gets this worked up in art, or is it just the somewhat vague instructions in puppetry that gets him so anxious about what he’s doing?)
I also have to say that I like helping out in Soren’s class, because doing Indonesian with them is often such a negative experience for all concerned that it’s a really nice change to be working with them in a positive way. It’s lovely to interact with them without being cranky half the time, and really good to be able to give attention to the kids who do behave well since my time is not taken up behaviour managing the challenging children.
Teaching them is not going well. I feel so ineffective with that class, and so frustrated that it’s the same children and the same issues as it was when they started in prep two and a half years ago. I feel so guilty about the children who sit there looking miserable because they do the right thing and yet still have to sit there week after week while I try and deal with the kids who won’t behave.
They are not even getting the work done that I plan for them, because they literally can/will not sit quiet and listen for the less than five minutes it would take me to explain their task. There are activities that I am doing with the prep/1 class that I SHOULD be doing with that grade 1/2 class but that I don’t even bother beginning because I know that it won’t work out. This week we were still working on families, and I had cards made up with pictures of the family members on them and the preps and 1s were asking ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Are you in my family?’ and joining up in little family groups, but I can’t do that with the grade 1/2s because the noise level instantly rises to shouting and when I tell them to stop (well, I actually can’t just SAY stop, I have to use a freaking tambourine to get their attention because they are so loud that they can’t hear my voice!) they basically take ten minutes to actually stop and quiet down. And in a thirty minute lesson…you see my difficulty here.
I mean, yesterday one of the kids actually started shouting at me. Every time they come in and sit down I remind them to sit next to people who help them make good choices about their behaviour (and not sit next to people that their regular teacher has made a rule about not sitting next to), and every week I wind up stopping what I’m doing to make kids move because they obviously made a bad choice. So yesterday I just thought screw that, and I started moving kids before the lesson even started. Except that the first child I told to move immediately started shouting at me that he’s allowed to sit next to the kid he was sitting with, and that it’s those other kids that aren’t allowed to sit together and…blah blah blah. Obviously that’s completely out of line so I told him that his choices were to sit where I had asked him to, or leave the class and go back to his teacher. Instead he storms to the back of the room, still yelling, and refuses to leave. So I have to send another child to fetch the teacher, then she comes and takes him out, and then a little while later he comes back in…and it’s all just disruptive. And it’s not like he came back in chastened by speaking with the teacher either, he sat down on the mat and two minutes later he was being silly with the person beside him and annoying the person sitting in front of him.
Basically, they don’t behave and I can’t make them, and they are kind of ruining my whole teaching gig. Writing this I’m actually sort of crying, because it really does just feel so hopeless.
I mean, I was thinking the other day that I’ve been feeling so good and it would be awesome to have some extra money for Indonesia next year and maybe I should tell the school that I could do the odd day of emergency teaching if they need someone. But the idea that I could have to have that class for a whole day…I can’t even face it. I could make over $200 for ONE day of work AND I WOULD RATHER NOT DO IT THAN BE STUCK IN A ROOM WITH THAT CLASS FOR A DAY. Like…what the fuck?
I know I need to just talk about this at the school, but it’s not as though I haven’t talked about it ad nauseam. They all say just send the kids out, but even when I do that the kid just comes back and apologises and does exactly the same. Or else they refuse to leave when I try and make them, and honestly nothing ever changes. I just feel so shitty about the whole issue and what a crappy teacher I am overall and I think maybe I should just quit. Writing this and crying is not helping anything.
Well, I kind of thought that would just be a paragraph about a difficult teaching day, and then it turned into that. I guess I have much stronger feelings than I thought.