Thursday, 27 November 2008

Tall, Short, Success, Failure

The last few days at SISP have been pretty exhausting. Today was better, partly because on Thursdays I only work until 1pm. The afternoon is Sports for the kids and, as I'm not the sporty kind, I have asked to be excused.

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. The English teacher was away due to the death of a relative so his classes were rescheduled. I ended up with a double period with class E. These are children generally around the 11-13 age, but actually extending from 7 to 15. So, let's do "opposites", I thought. How can I spin that out for two hours? Hmm - well I could get their names, their ages, and measure the heights and weights, draw up a table, and then do "tallest", "shortest", "youngest", "oldest" and so on. Good plan in theory but in practice, as I was to find, ability ranges from barely able to write to "I can do this in my sleep" (in attitude, if not in fact). First problems were - I don't have a pen, my pen doesn't work, my pen can fly, my pen seems to be broken, my exercise book is full, I want a ruler, how do I draw a table in a book which is lined for handwriting practice....

No one knew their age, of course. Or how to use bathroom scales, or measure their heights. But somehow we struggled through.

Then they couldn't figure out that 37kg was greater than 23kg, or 138cm greater than 133cm. So I wrote down things like "J. is taller than T." for them to copy, but they didn't understand that tallness equated to height!

All the while there was chattering but worse: to attract your attention they yell "Saareee", "Saaray", "Teachereee" and "teacheray" - a whining sound that gives you nightmares. No matter how many times you tell them to be quiet and to stick their hands up, they ignore you. And the volume increases if you don't respond immediately, even if it's obvious you're in the middle of trying to explain something to some other child. The incessant chattering, giggling and shouting! It drives you mad, MAD I tell you! Really I was gasping for breath after that double period was over. I was literally reeling from the frustration.

Thankfully it was followed by a 20 minute break in which I managed to calm myself a bit before the computing lesson. That was with Class A, the oldest of the students, with ages from 15 to 20. That was easy - I just let them practice with Photoshop or Powerpoint. They end up doing things like sticking the Queen's torso in a savana landscape with Zebras and penguins. Or writing "Vargees Loves Lakshmee" in rotating, fading, zooming, flashing garish text, with flying hearts or flowers. Subtle, it ain't.

In the last quarter hour I let them play computer games which won me some Brownie Points!

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