Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Behavior 101

The classroom before we split rooms...approx 46 kids. The kids I took... yes those ones crawling around on the floor and looking around and not working :)
What do you mean these walls aren't for climbing? 
How many times must I tell you to get down? Can you please just sit! 
You guys I love you but you are just too close and it's too hot, I may pass out or be sick. 
Scoot back! 
Sit down! 
*insert name*!!!...where are you going? 
Can you say please? 
Please don't hit me. 
You can do it! *big smile*

Wait you want me to listen to you?
These were just a few of the sayings during those first few weeks of school that I said so many times (in both languages) that I thought to myself, "I'm not sure I can do this". I believe God was totally working during these moments showing me to let go of myself and my own efforts and let him love through me. 

haha teacher (mwalimu)... you think you can teach us! We'll just play games while you "talk".
Good behavior and discipline really didn't exist in the hearts of these kids when I took them. It was wild may be an understatement. I was trying to teach and no one was listening. I got to the point where I didn't even know what to say. I was tired of "disciplining" and calling for help when they would just smile and do whatever it was I was asking them not to do. It wasn't that they didn't understand me, believe me they did, they just wanted to see how much they could get away with.

Sleeping sounds so much more fun than listening to your teaching teacher...
So what exactly is discipline in a village school? In college we called it behavior modification, some call it spanking, canning, punishment... whatever title you give it, it may seem painful but with lots of love, rewarding the good behavior and at times ignoring the little defiance's out can come a desire to want to do the right thing. Every teacher carries a stick (fimbo) even if you never use. Its mostly used for pointing to things on the blackboard or hitting a pole to get the attention of those dozing. If one doesn't carry a stick, they are seen as one who can't control. Kids look at someone without a stick and realize they can get a lot closer and do wrong and not get punished. 

So here I was in a classroom with 12 little people (by the end of the first week my roster count was 19) and it was crazy! (another understatement). And I was expected to carry a stick, use it actually. For the first few days I did everything opposite to what they are use to. I sat on the floor instead of a chair, I didn't carry a stick, I rewarded good behavior, I gave them attention while they were working, I smiled even when it was crazy, I even handed out candy! With some prayer over the weekend I came back and decided I'm just going to hold the stick and see what happens. I can't begin to explain the difference in behavior. I began to do love taps (as I called them) on the hand for little things, talking while I was talking, getting up while I was teaching, leaving the classroom without asking permission, hitting their friend, etc. It was a way for me to use their way of discipline without causing pain and still able to get their attention. 

This lasted about 3 days. I then decided to experiment and not carry the stick. I did (and sometimes still do) have to pretend to be grabbing the stick when I see someone doing something I've asked them not to do but they almost always stop. I don't have to call for help ever. I have a classroom full of happy, well-behaved and disciplined kids.

Changing up with environment and doing school outside for a bit...practicing writing our a, b, and c's.
And that lasted for a whole 5 minutes... I want to go play!
 I love watching them work together, help each other (as long as they aren't doing each other's work) and show love to one another. I love that there are mostly smiles and not a lot of tears throughout our days. I love that an upside down bench can be a great place to do your work so that you can have some personal space... :)

Penina glancing my way, her older sister Hilda in the green dress helping Anita with her writing.
Yes there is hope for a quiet classroom where all the kids are working, even if they are 2, 3, 4, and 5 years old. Expectations are everything!

I truly have seen miracles on God's part as I get to the end of myself and let him speak through me. There were (and are) moments where I still get frustrated and I love that He reminds me to stop, talk to him, invite him into the moment and then do His will. He reminds me often that I am just like these sweet kids. I have my moments where I don't listen, purposely do what I'm not suppose to and how does He react? With patience, with grace, with love. I want to show these kids Jesus like He shows himself to me all the time.

The kids have reminded me often that I am student in their culture as they are students in my classroom. They humble me often. They love to teach. They have a head, shoulders, knees and toes song in swahili and I often touch the wrong body part on purpose and then have them "teach me". They also love to stand in front of the class and teach with the pictures or objects I have been using. Not only is a great way for them to get some individual attention but always helps me gauge how much they know.
Here sweet Sauda did a great job teaching the class the English names of the utensils (that they never use :)). 
I cannot wait to get back in the classroom for our second term starting in May. I cannot wait to see God show up. I cannot wait to see the kids exceed my expectations both in behavior and learning. I cannot wait to pour out God's love. I can't wait to show them Jesus.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

School picture day - 1st Term 2014

Denis is my youngest student at 2 years old almost three. When I started teaching my own class he was content to stay with my co-teacher and when brought to my class would just cry. I would let him wander back. Around the beginning of March when brought to my class he started to stay. Now I get these cute smiles from him all day long. He enjoys coloring and saying “tree”.

Sidhani pronounced sid-thu-ni is around 4 years old and a very hard worker. I can tell that his family life involves a lot of hitting because he is my number one offender and I often have to ask him to come sit by me. I’ve enjoyed seeing him hit less in the last several weeks as we talk a lot about using our words when we are frustrated. When we are doing blackboard work or picture reading he is very quick to answer and gets the most serious face when he does. He is honest and I love that about him.

Monica. She is the niece to one of my co-teachers and it just runs in their blood to be sweet and quiet! She is very bright and did better than her older classmates in picture reading and number values. She gives sweet hugs and says, “good morning teach-er” in the cutiest voice!

Lydia pronounced Lid-ya always has a smile on her face. When she doesn’t know the answer she smiles and when she answers and its wrong she still smiles. Her favorite thing to do in school is ask for specific colors and she is always one of the last ones to finish because she is trying so hard.

Evelyne…can you see the spunk? She always has that backpack on her and will take it off to get out a pencil and then put it back on. Even though I will spend the time writing out the activity for her to do in her book she still insists on writing it herself. If I want her to trace a letter she will write the letter next to the dots I have written. She is one of my most behaved girls who never misses a day of school.

Sumea is one of my older students who has learned so much in the last few months. She is always willing to try even if she doesn’t know the answer or how to draw the picture. She tends to want to mother the younger kids and I’ve caught her doing their work before not because she realized it was wrong but because she wanted to help. I’ve been able to guide her in using her words to help her friends and she is now a great helper to me.

Dama usually has this smile on her face but she isn’t the brightest in the bunch. She always tries though and I commend her often for not just staring at me when she doesn’t know the answer. She does know how to read a picture of an umbrella and the letter “f”. She is the best writer in my class though and may not be able to name the letters and numbers but can rewrite them very well. She has a twin in the other class and her younger sister, Nyevu, in her class. 

Nyevu is one of my stubborn ones who wants it her way all the time. One-on-one she does really well but when asked to give an answer in front of the class she becomes very shy. Even though she is stubborn at time she has a very sensitive spirit where if I ask her to not do something she immediately cries. She tends to receive a lot of hugs throughout the day!

Fanisi pronounced furnace is one of the sweetest boys you will ever see. He is the oldest in the class and a great leader. If I need something from another class I send him and he always succeeds. We do music at the end of each day and I catch him through the morning singing the songs by himself or teaching his friends. When it comes time for music he often closes his eyes to see if he knows the motions by himself. The video is of him singing this is the day, I did help sing but I didn’t do any motions.

Edson was my defiant child at the beginning who purposely went against whatever I asked him to do. It actually got so bad I had to ask another teacher to come in and talk with him. Within a few days he became a teacher-pleaser and I often praise him for obeying when others are not. He loves to sit as close as possibly to me to the point where he can’t see what I’m holding up because its too straining on his neck. He is now one of the most behaved and hardworking kids in my class.

Sefu looks so old and mature in this picture but he is barely three years old. When he first started school he cried every day and would not detach from his older brother. He now comes to school and is usually the first one in my classroom ready to learn. He loves to write like the big kids and actually does really well.

Silas is so cute but his looks are not going to get him through school. He always sits in the same spot every day and refuses to sit on the ground, he always squats. He tends to be shy but when I talk to him one-on-one he will do what I ask. He is another slow one to color and will use as many colors as possibly so everything looks like a rainbow.

Salim got hit in the head with a stone the morning before this picture was taken and had to go get stiches. Other kids would have stayed home but Salim didn’t miss a day of school. He loves to practice reading the shapes and music time at the end of the day. He is such a sweet boy and a joy to get to teach and hang out with on a daily basis.

Shallet is a funny but smart girl. She doesn’t talk a lot and when she does it’s the quietest voice. She tends to miss school often because she doesn’t pay her school fees but did really well on her exams considering. She loves to please me whether that be picking something up that has dropped or telling me when someone has does something wrong.

Faith is the oldest student I have. She tends to do her work quickly and then sit patiently and wait. I often have to ask her if she is finished and to show me her work because she will just put her book in her bag without showing me. She loves to practice counting and doing number values work. She tends to be shy but warms up by the end of each day.

Sauda pronounced sa-u-da is just barely 3 years old but always wants to write and not color. For my 3 youngest kids I often give them coloring activities to do and her and Sefu always refuse and want to do writing like the older kids. She tends to march to the beat of her own drum throughout the day and I tend to have to have a lot of patience with her but when she does smile it just melts my heart and reminds me how much joy she has inside her.

Gloria is my newest student and always has this smile on her face. During break time she often wants to be right at my side until she finds a friend to play with. At the end of the day she is the first to shake my hand goodbye and will offer to carry one of my bags back to the house for me. I’ve enjoyed getting to see her learn so much in the last month and looking forward to watching her blossom at the start of this next term.

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