Drawing near the end of the second week teaching English and I’m TIRED. I have a new appreciation for teachers in general, especially the ones who teach little kids day in and out. It’s tough! I have come to learn that with teaching you really have no idea what each class period is going to entail. One hour I’m confidently instructing a class of forty 5 year olds who are engaged, excited, and all around happy to be with me. Cue to the next hour where no one wants to play and learn, they just want to pick their noses and run amok while I chase them; barefoot and sweating in my knee length skirt.
I left school last Thursday for my much anticipated three day weekend feeling successful about my job, even if it was only a little bit. These kids are so young. My K1 students are about three years old. This is their first experience in a school setting and it shows on their tiny faces. They are terrified. Here comes this big farang into the classroom singing and dancing and acting like an all around fool, just to get their attention. I start with a loud and warm, “Hello, class!” or “Good Morning!”, and sometimes I get a response back. “Are you ready?” I shout. “YEAH!” forty tiny voices shout back. Then to focus their attention on me (or to literally wake them up) I play a physical response game. “Stand up, sit down, turn around, clap clap clap!” I instruct the class and have them repeat after me. “Walk walk walk. Run run run run run!” They love that one. You have to be careful though because when a class full of kindergartners gets overly excited, it usually ends in a pile of students on the ground in hysterics and it takes another five minutes to calm them down. “FREEZE!” is my favorite, for obvious reasons. I slap my arms to my sides and stand at attention while the kids follow suit.
I’ve played Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes with all my classes. And the response is wildly unique with each level of students. My K1 classes watch apprehensively, while slowly gaining comprehension of what body parts I’m singing. They go NUTS when I speed up the song. It’s hilarious to watch them all freak out, laughing and clumsily pointing to eyes and ears and mouth and nose.
I had big plans on Monday to teach my K3 classes The Beatle’s song “Hello, Goodbye”. I played it a few times and sung along while they watched in confusion and semi-interest. Then I attempted to teach the vocab words from the song; “high, low; stop, go”. It takes trial, error, and patience when you can only teach 4 words max in a class period. What got the ball rolling with the vocab words was when my amazing co-teacher, Pi Poo, took the reins and turned the vocab lesson into a game of duck duck goose. Sitting in a circle, the class repeats and acts out the words while a student taps on their classmate’s heads. Ending with the word “GO!” (equivalent of goose in the game) the students chase each other around the circle. It was hilarious and within a few minutes 40 hands were shooting up in the air to go next. I still don’t think they really remembered the words, but it was fun for everyone. Pretty soon I was sweating yet again (shocker) as I was running around the circle with the students yelling and clapping “Go, go, go!”
I’m grateful that I don’t have to create advanced lesson plans and assessments every day, but classes like this are exhausting, mentally and physically. I’m trying to not be so hard on myself and the students. I’m an alien to them, speaking in tongues and towering over their miniature red and white sailor-esque uniforms. I have to remember to speak slowly and clearly, not an easy task for a girl from the East Coast. My favorite part of this week was teaching the song “If you’re happy and you know it”. K3 has started to sing along and they love the action parts of the song. “If you’re tired and you know it, fall asleep” is the best. I literally lay down on the floor and snore loudly for a few seconds before jumping up screaming, “wake up, wake up, wake up!!!!!!”
All of the stress and confusion I’m facing right now is quelled when I walk through the hallway and class after class cranes their head out the window to say “Hello, teacha!” to me, some running up to me and hugging me around my legs; and they sure as hell love giving me high-fives.