Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blessing in Disguise

There is a lovely expression that goes something like this: a blessing in disguise. We use it when something seemingly bad that happens turns out to be actually a good thing.

For example: On 10th March, our school had its “Open Day” in which the parents came to school to look through all their children’s books to check on their progress. I was a bit stressed before that day, having to go through all my kids’ English books making sure I had graded everything correctly. The day was good/bad... I loved being able to talk to the parents of the really good students to let them know how wonderful their kids were doing in school, but for the bad students, I had to tell their parents how they misbehaved all the time in class and didn’t do their homework. Whatever. Not having anything to do, the kids were a bit noisy, talking loudly in the classroom and kind of running around, but nothing too bad, I thought. They didn’t have any classes, and I didn’t expect them to sit silently at their desks the entire day. They’re only nine or ten! However, Sister Juliana came into the classroom and yelled at them for being too loud (her office is right next to my classroom).

The next day, she called me into her office and told me she had a bone to pick with me. Those are words you never want to hear from your boss. I sat down at her desk and she let me have it. She told me I can’t control the kids well enough, that they’re always making noise in the class. It’s because I don’t cane them, she said. I was a bit upset by this because for the first month or so that I taught them, yes, they were a little out of control, but a couple weeks prior to Open Day I had discovered a wonderful method of keeping them quiet during class. I make a sort of competition between rows to see which row is the quietest. When I raise my hand, the first row to all quietly raise their hands gets a point. At the end of the week, the every student in the row with the most points gets a prize. It works marvelously!

However, on Open Day, they weren’t sitting in their rows because no one was teaching, and they were being a bit loud. Sister Juliana said that since I can’t control them, I can’t be alone with them anymore. She decided to take Monsieur Kofi out of 4A and put him in 4B with me, and reassign Mr. Roland back to 4A. She said I’m too nice to the children, that I allow them to hug me and talk to me too much. I’m their teacher, not their babysitter, she said, so I shouldn’t be so personal with them.

When she told me this, I wanted to cry. I felt like I was making breakthroughs with some of the troubled and insecure students, and she told me I couldn’t talk to them anymore! Who would tell the the girls that they’re beautiful? Who would encourage the slower students in class that even though they didn’t get a very high grade on their homework, they’re still winners and they’ll do better next time?

Also, I felt so incompetent. I’m a horrible teacher and a horrible person!

The only difference I saw when Monsieur came to the class was that I didn’t have to mark the attendance register, because he took over. Very kind! And the kids were a bit quieter in between classes, because he threatened to cane the ones who made noise. I didn’t pay much heed to Sister Juliana’s admonitions that I shouldn’t love the children so much. I still talk to them all the time during breaks and in between classes and hug them when they need it. That hasn’t changed.

Blessing in disguise. Well, the class teachers have to prepare their class’s report cards. This means collecting all the grades from each subject, recording the marks onto a report form, adding all the scores together, figuring out who was first, second, third, etc., etc. It’s a ridiculous amount of work, but, since Monsieur Kofi is officially the class teacher, he did all the work so I didn’t have to! Luckily for me! I was already in over my head just recording the marks for English. It took so long to put together their English forms because some of them didn’t leave their homework books with me, and often they did the work in the wrong book (for example, writing a composition in a comprehension homework book).

Anyway, I was quite relieved that I wasn’t the official class teacher, because I barely managed to finish the English reports in time. If I also had to calculate all their scores and write their reports... I never would have been able to do it all in time.

Okay, so now I’m officially exhausted from not having slept enough the past two weeks or so since exams started. Today was “Our Day” in which the kids could do whatever they wanted. They all brought food to class to share with each other, and some of them brought food for me. One of my students even gave me a beautiful piece of purple cloth for me to make a dress! They all brought play clothes and changed so that they could run around without fear of dirtying their uniforms. Some of the kids put on a play of Cinderella... it was so cute! It reminded me so much of my childhood, when my friends, sisters, and I acted out plays all the time. I told them about how I was in a play of Cinderella when I was a little girl. I was one of the stepsisters. It was a good day, but it’s sad that I won’t see them again for a few weeks!

1 comment:

Jason 'Star' Rice said...

I am glad to hear that you still hug and talk to your students. I don't know whether the idea being distant from your students helps in any way or not, but I don't see it as being very efficient; I have an extremely difficult time with it.