Since my school schedule at somewhat consistent now, I have a map of where I need to go from day to day. But a downfall of that is I sometimes arrive to the class before my co teachers. The home base teachers for the classes don’t care who takes over the class, as long as there is an adult, they beeline out of there. So occasionally I find myself face to face with 20 or so Georgian children who speak very limited English, but are looking up at me very expectantly. But teacher trick #238 says, “You are the adult and they know it… so act like it”. Meaning, I am the authority in the room, I have ‘the power’, and as long as I act like it, they will respect it and we each play our roles. And usually the co teacher comes in shortly.
But on several occasions the teacher didn’t show up at all. That’s when I really have to put my game face on. Two such stories:
The first was with a fifth grade class. It wasn’t difficult at first with this class because they already thought I was a celebrity. And there English was good enough to communicate with them… kinda. They were anxious to please. Which is a trait I’ve noticed all the students possess. Even the trouble-makers. (And, yes, there are trouble-makers.) They told me exactly where we left off reading in the text. And the stronger students, volunteered to read… twice. So the first 20 minutes of the 45 was a breeze. But I got bored, so I decided to mix it up with some verb conjugations and new words. This is where things got dicey. The boys who were not very strong with English anyways, took this as an opportunity to start acting out, the girls allowed there excitement to get the best of them, and it was the beginning of perfect conditions for a hurricane. So to save the last bit of the class, I transitioned from the verbs we were working on, into direct questions about them. “Do you like to sing?” “Do you like to dance?” “Who is your favorite singer?”
Now if you know me, this turned into a name that tune session, as most of them named current American artist; Beyonce, Eminem, Justin Beiber. When I sang the chorus to ‘Baby’, it was like a scene in the movies where everyone immediately stops talking at the same time and stares. Then immediate pandemonium of other requests of songs. Kids were whipping out phones to play music and taking out notebooks of lyrics, etc. So I made a compromise. If we get through the reading with everyone participating, then I will dance and sing. Challenge Accepted!
So as an encore I did a little moon walking and break dancing. And for the song, I was trying to think of the rest of the words to ‘Love On Top’, by Beyonce, when the bell rang.
[Bow. Bow] Goodnight, you’ve been a great audience! Until next time! Peace Out! [Bow]
The second solo performance occurred today. Got to class before the bell rang (not the norm) and I was going over some simple questions with them, “What is your name?” “How old are you?” Again, very respectful, eager to participate, and willing to assist each other with translations. After a while of this one student asked, “Where’s Manana? (the English teacher)”. Don’t know, but let’s keep going. We then read some of Jack and the Beanstalk. Unfortunately I got bored again, and decided to switch it up. I had several students do role-play while others read a corresponding role from the book. At first they were skeptical to volunteer, until they understood what I wanted. Then a torrent of enthusiasm and desperate pleas to participate erupted in the room. For those who aren’t in the program, this is a daunting experience. They are not fond of or have territoriality of their desks in the first place. They jump up and literally rush up to your face, with hands raised saying, “MAS, MAS, MAS!!!!” Which translates to and short for ‘teacher’ (masts’avlebeli). And if they REALLY want to be called on for fear of instantly self-destructing, they will also pull on their throats right under their chins. As I said, when first presented with this urgency of little bodies begging like hungry puppies, its overwhelming. It’s going to take a lot of training to break them of that habit.
They were so enthused that the security guard popped her head in the door to investigate the commotion. She was satisfied that no one was being harmed by the American, so she humbly apologized and retreated.
Well, even though they were truly excited, it was more than they could handle, meaning it was like they all got a mental brain freeze. They wanted to participate and do the activity, but they were so excited, they literally couldn’t hold it together. And unfortunately because of my limited Georgian, I couldn’t do much but motion for them to be quiet and sit down. I couldn’t reason with them and continue, because I didn’t have the words. That made me sad, because they didn’t understand why we stopped.
But they were equally as enthusiastic to work from their workbooks answering questions and learning new words.
A couple of things come to mind with simple observation:
They are still being taught in what I imagine is a “Soviet style” of educating. Meaning when a teacher, any teacher enters the room, they all stand at attention until told to do otherwise. (I kind of like that). They are encouraged to memorize the hell out of words and information. The teachers are super strict with them. I cringe sometimes at the ferocity of the barrage of verbiage that rains down on them at times. But they all are stoic, boys and girls. They take it like champs, where as I would have been in tears.
They are very, very quick to ‘tattle’ on a classmate, even if it’s a friend of theirs. Maybe that’s the case in American elementary schools, too. It’s shocking, but funny. In the middle of class with the upmost urgency they will inform us that so and so doesn’t have their notebook.
Sorry there are no pictures of the kiddies, yet. I don’t want to be MORE of a distraction that I already am. Maybe once my novelty wears off.
“You know you love me, I know you care
Just shout whenever, and I’ll be there
You are my love, you are my heart
And we will never ever ever be apart”
Baby, Justin Bieber