This past Friday was a difficult one. All in all, the week was a good one. My classes were fun to teach. The children were rambunctious but generally well-behaved and respectful. Friday, however was a different story. The disaster as most are, was not just one incident but a combination of small things piling one on top of the other.
1. I was pooped! I stayed out a little too late on Thursday night and therefore had a shorter and more frayed string of patience to start out with.
2. I had the three lowest classes to end what was close to a great week. Low classes are not always bad, in fact, most of the time, I would say they are generally quiet. Quiet as little field mice running around scourging for cheese. So quiet that my voice gets louder and louder as no words or peeps or even acknowledgement is said as I ask questions. In fact many times teaching the lower classes is like being a dentist, it feels like pulling rooted teeth except there is no anesthetic involve, just pain and misery. But the low classes this week weren't field mice. OH NO! They were more like drugged up on crack, escapee science experiment rats with a mission. Rambunctious was the word I used to describe this school, but these kids were crazed!
3. And last but not least, and this might have been the thing that really lit the fire, was the fact that these were the last classes of the week on Friday afternoon. I remember full well sitting in school, wiggling my bootee, waiting for the clock to tic toc over to the sweet bell of freedom. The nervous, restless anxiety that filled my empty vessel of a body up. There was no learning on a Friday afternoon. A mind cannot sit still when freedom is just around the corner. And the contagion had begun and spread like wildfire. That familiar freedom itch was obvious not only from the look in their stir crazy eyes but in their actions of "how to drive a teacher mad!"
So there you have it, my disastrous combination stewing in a cauldron, a short frayed patience, eye of newt, crazed children, rotten apples, a hair of a swine's tail and low level classes is a recipe for certain ill fatted consequences. I should have known by the black tainted steam pillowing out of the sparkling abyss.
1st afternoon class- I stumble out of bed, with lines still creasing my face from my afternoon nap and find that I now have to teach the LOWEST CLASS of the school while fighting off the sleepy daze. Broadcasting is not a hard class except for two things. It is hard to help all of the kids who can't figure out the script if they aren't high enough to figure it out on their own, and it is hard to control the children who are waiting to be filmed in the other room from going absolutely bananas. As I began walking around the room helping the kids with filling in the blanks and pronunciation, I realized that I couldn't possibly help everyone in time to do filming. Most of them weren't interested, some of them couldn't read English, and the boys didn't even have their books open and had started to get up and walk around the room as if I weren't there. As I looked around the room at the 13 children my rope of patience started to stretch taut. I could feel the strings popping as tiny threads gave in under the weight. The overwhelmingness encompassed hit me like a cloud. We didn't finish the taping. Normally I have at least ten minutes to spare with enough time to show them their hard work on the big screen. But when the kids can't read and you have to spoon feed them every line, it doesn't work so smoothly.
State of patience: rapidly fraying, in very bad shape
Second class: Before class even started, the boys walked in and started playing with the video camera, speakers and TV. VERY BAD SIGN! That is an obvious NO NO, and it was obvious that they had they didn't care if they should or shouldn't touch the NO TOUCH equipment. I began the class with yelling. I hoped that if I scared them enough at the beginning, I could get them to behave the rest of class. NOPE! They were past needing drugs for hyper activity. I needed a tranq gun to keep this class in line. They were screaming, rolling on the floor, pressing every imaginable button grabbing at the video camera, tripod and any other thing with wires sticking out. Solution: WORD SEARCH for half of the class! Result: They didn't even really pull my patience taut. Oh NO! They took scissors and cut it into little pieces. I might not be very frightening, but I knew who their next teacher was, and he COULD be frightening. "Make them cry," I said, "Have no mercy." I am pretty confident they had what was coming.
State of patience: cut into little shreds- disastrous, all people coming in contact with me should be concerned
Third class: They weren't as bad as the first and second classes but it didn't matter. There no longer was a short string of patience. There was no patience left. It was cut into tiny smithereens and scattered all over the broadcasting studio. I don't honestly remember what happened in this class- it was as if I were in a daze. A crazy, teacher's gone off the deep end daze.
State of patience: Non existence, lost to the world.
This weekend, I am working on sewing my rope back together. It is tedious work, but I am hoping it will be restored with some R and R and time away from kids!