Saturday, January 20, 2007

Do 6 year olds like to dance the Robot?

As most of you know, I am officially trained to teach high school students. I have self taught myself how to teach adults. I date a woman who lives in the realm of 3-5 year old on an almost daily existence. However, I personally have no idea what to do in front of 12 six year olds who may or may no speak the greatest english.

On friday, I was granted the opportunity to learn how to do this. The American Pacific International School had an in-service learning day for their Kindergarten teachers. One of those teachers is our friend Connie so she asked if Megan and I would like to come in and substitute for two of the classes.

[Yao looking at the camera]
So there I was, nine in the morning, with 12 kids kneeling in front of me on a carpet and a whiteboard in front of me. I had a vague idea of what a "morning circle" is from Megan, but had never participated in one (at least not since I was 5). We did the date, the weather (I tried to crack a joke about how the weather is always sunny, but it went over like George Bush cracking a joke at Howard Dean's birthday), and then we wrote out the days events on the whiteboard.

Everything was going great because of the help of the Thai assistant, the wonderful Ms. Cherry. I read the epic novel "I like it When..." to the class and then we drew fun pictures of what we like and I helped the little rugrats to spell the words of what they like. We had a morning snack, did some more work on words that start with P and then Ms. Cherry went to lunch. That is when Hayden, Ken and Super (yes his name is Super- don't laugh Captain, Pimp and Poopy are popular names too) decided that counting to 100 is boring and that running laps around the room is much more fun. Now I have to admit that it probably is more fun, but it wasn't what I needed to be happening at that moment. Hmmmmm. What to do? I felt somehow obliged to continue with the lessons I was tasked with teaching, but it was becoming obvious quite quickly I would have to come with something else. And something somewhat physical. THE ROBOT. For some reason, dancing the robot came into my head. If I could get the class to follow me in a robot session, perhaps I could find the remote control for the robots and switch them all off. Or at least hit the slow motion button. And it worked... for about 1 minute. Soon I had a renegade platoon of robots scouring the room for robot food. One robot boy had lost his robot pants and electronic underwear and was terrorizing the laboratory.

[Super doing his things]
That is when Megan miraculously showed up. Her head popped in the door and I heard a "do you need some help?" I smiled a robot smile, she kicked me out of the class and sent me to her classroom where the kids were working quietly on a rhyming exercise. I was afraid to open my mouth in this room for fear of disturbing the peace so I hung back in the corner and pretended to have something to do. Ten minutes later, Megan comes back in and tells me to return to my class to help the kids clean up and get ready for snack. It was no peaceful refuge, but the kids were all working together to clean up the room.

Lunch happened, then they had a Thai lesson complete with a Thai pop song dance party and then one more hour of relatively uneventful game playing and spelling exercises and they were out of my care.

In the moment, it was a pretty stressful situation. After it was all over, I thought about how I might have done it all differently and almost look forward to the next time. I think I might have some new tricks up my sleeve, but those may go over as well as the Robot Dance. It will be fun to try.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Over indulgence makes for a bad blogger

I've been just about the worst blogger in Thailand for the last month. The only way I could have blogged less would be to erase other people's blogs.
Fortunately, I haven't and since my friend Tim Matsui is over here visiting and he is slightly better than me, you can find an incredible entry on discovering Thailand here: Tim's Matsui's Blog.

And since I promised to put more elephant photos up, here are some of my favorites.