Sunday, May 22, 2016

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Thanks for stopping by.

We've had quite a few birthdays in quick succession this month, and with birthdays comes celebration. With celebration, comes cake. With cake, apparently, comes vomit. Within the space of a week, two different children vomited on two different rugs in the class. (We were rugless for a while, when the rugs were being cleaned.) Oh the joys of teaching...

That said, I wanted to relay some of the funny things my students have said or done that I have recorded over the last few weeks. When we had our Crazy Hair Day (ie when I posted pictures of my pipe-cleaner strewn scalp on Facebook), one of the boys in the class had gelled and slicked his hair back. I commented that I liked his cowlick, to which he indignantly replied "No! It's a superman curl." So you kind of just roll with it and go, oh of course! Silly me...

Later that day I kept being hassled by a girl to fasten her bow, which had fallen out. Upon muttering to myself "I'm honestly the worst person to be doing this," she sighed deeply and replied: "I know."

During morning news, the same girl from the above story blurts out "Mummy likes me when I sleep properly during the night." {That was less humorous and more #relatable, because not just my mum but everyone likes me more when I sleep properly the night before.}

The next little anecdotes are just me being completely immature but I love it:

Overhearing a kid say "I'm just gonna fart in my pants; I don't care."

When practicing writing numbers phonetically, one of the girls misspelled 'six' as 'sex'.

A different girl requested a bandaid on her hurt finger, which happened to be her middle finger. All throughout the day she would bring up how her finger didn't hurt anymore now she had a bandaid and proceeded to flash the bird at me every time. (Just to clarify, it was completely innocent and she clearly had no idea what she was doing.)

I guess that was a fairly brief update, but that's because last weeks was an essay (and I lead a fairly ordinary life, so finding new things to write about is sometimes noggin-scratching.)

Hope you enjoyed my lil' stories..

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alice the Camel

No, I did not visit the camel farm this week, nor did I adopt one, or even ride one. On the contrary - I spent more time than ever with the littlies because I finally was given the all clear to start my choirs. This term the Early Years after school programme started, and that included my choir, which runs every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 1.10-2.10pm. It doesn't sound like much time, just an hour, but trust me - neither party could handle much more. The kids are over it by the end, and I'm hoarse from singing children's songs, talking, laughing and occasionally, disciplinary action. Not to mention, I'm sweaty from all the action songs. It has been a great success so far, particularly today. Earlier in the week I had dwindling numbers, between 2-4 children each day, which was quite disheartening. On Thursday though, I had 10 students! I could actually call that a choir-sized amount.

I think the idea is that I teach these three choirs, with students aged between 3-6 years old, the same songs (it feels wrong to refer to "Baby Beluga", "We're Going to the Zoo" and "Ballin' the Jack" as repertoire) and combine as one big choir for an end of term performance for the parents. What I've enjoyed about it so far is how much fun it can be when you just kind of wing it.* I'm having fun going all out in a kindergarten classroom, singing silly songs with silly dance moves with a bunch of four year olds. It's cool getting to know their personalities and giving "leadership opportunities" to the bolder ones ('how about you start the verse, Santiago' and 'what animal shall we be next, Abdullah?'). What I initially failed at and had to learn from is how little their minds can retain in terms of lyrics. Songs have to be as repetitive, simple, and physical as possible. The more actions, the better, because it keeps them engaged and helps them make meaning out of the music. When I started gathering music for them, the things I thought would be easy peasy had to be simplified even further, or scrapped entirely, because I realised they just weren't going to work for this age group.

It is fairly limiting to have a choir of such a young age group, but I do really enjoy working with the little ones all the same. You just have to get creative. I stumbled across all my nostalgic childhood Love to Sing albums online and just thought: this is perfect. Consequently, Alice the Camel has become a class favourite. It's really both comforting and refreshing to teach such familiar and memorable music during my formative years to kids about the same age as I was when I lived and breathed the stuff. It sends memories flooding back of dancing around with lil' Erin in our front room - before broadband internet, iPhones, ahhh... yesteryear. (Just wanted a way to incorporate the word yesteryear to appear extra douchey.) Mind you, I am 89% sure our copy of Love to Sing and Dance was a cassette tape. That's right. Some pre-historic shit right there.

for Sophie, or anyone else reading this born after 2000

So far, this blog post is making me feel ancient, and I'm not even old. At all. In fact, I'm still in that fleeting stage of life where I get pissed off when people comment on how young I look/act/sound/dress. Shut the fuc front door. Please and thank you. Don't these people realise how infuriating it felt when they were my age and being told the exact same things? Treat me like an adult, and I promise that I will rise to the challenge... of faking my way through.

Abrupt digression: my class were doing a worksheet about where we come from versus where we live now (Bahrain, obviously). One kid, who is from Syria, identified the Saudi Arabian flag as his own - presumably because he has been told that is his nationality. He was absolutely convinced he was born there. That makes you wonder, do the parents lie out of shame? Fear? To protect him? It's pretty stuffed up if you think about it. But surely they have their reasons.

Recalibration: I can't even remember if I mentioned this in my last blog post, but I'm too lazy to check - I started going to a new choir I found (as a participant) and got offered a solo part off the bat. Possibly two? Probably all the other sopranos hate me now, but yolo. We're mainly doing cheesy pop songs and power ballads, but that's fine by me. Better than no choir at all.

*and wing it I very well had to when I turned up to school on Sunday only to be informed that morning that I was to start my first choir rehearsal after school that very same day. Ahem.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Day in the Life

Oh hai there folks!

So it's been a while. Partially because I need to be in a very specific mood to sit down and type one or two full pages of nonsense from my brain and then post it on a public form for all to learn about my life. (Oh yes, university essays are going to suck next year.)

I thought it would be cool to present to my readers just what I get up to on an average week day. How fun are timetables though. Mine is super weird and greatly contrasts to the 100 minute periods I slogged through last year at high school. Because every week day is different, I decided to choose Thursday, because it happened today and it's all fresh in my memory. So, here we go:

6:00am (or thereabouts)
I arise from my bed bouncing with energy motivated by the proximity of breakfast. I commence my morning routine, which is nothing out of the ordinary really...the mundane getting changed, eating porridge (yus), packing lunch and brushing teeth.

I hop in the car and we drive to school, which takes about 25 minutes and is both delightfully scenic and visually stimulating dusty and beige. I thoroughly enjoy signing in by pushing my thumb into a digital finger print scanner when I arrive at school. I feel like I'm fulfilling my childhood dream of featuring in Spy Kids.

It's time for our staff meeting, where very sophisticated things occur such as the presentation of weekly "You Rock!" awards and accompanying chocolate, plus any relevant notices for the day ahead and staff covers.

The students and staff gather inside the air-conditioned school hall outside for morning assembly. We usually sing the Bahrain national anthem, and often have performances and presentations by students, or a motivating message from a staff member.

The teacher calls the roll and our school day begins officially. Our timetable consists of thirteen 30 minute periods, some of which are double periods.

Period 1 and 2
Islamic Studies for Muslim children, and Citizenship for non-Muslims. The latter entails learning about the culture and history of Bahrain, and the former is rather self-explanatory; students learn about the stories of the Qu'ran, the five pillars of Islam, and proper recitation, among other things.
This is followed by language, which breaks into three streams: Arabic for First Language (native speakers), Arabic for Second Language, and French. Both of these periods have specialist teachers.

8:50am Period 3
It's snack time yo. I unwrap packets and undo caps for the feeble-handed children. (Seriously so cute though.) Side note: did you know that pre-packaged single croissants exist? They come in different flavours and everything. New Zealand, we need to import more processed crap, pronto. We have a kid with type 1 diabetes so I get to take him to the school nurse to check his blood sugar levels. I mention this only because he tells me the cutest and most random things in broken English. Then I sit down on the dwarf chairs and eat something with the kids too.

Period 4 and 5
Double maths, where we dutifully practice our counting, measuring, addition and subtraction. Often we break into small groups and rotate activities. Since there are four of us in the class (the teacher, two individual teacher aides, and me), we all have a group each to work with.

Period 6 and 7
Double literacy, where we do class reading, small group reading, and practice our word blends and writing skills. Today I took a table and we did word bingo, which is way more fun than it sounds.

Period 8 and 9
Outside play for 30 minutes. We take the kids to the playground and proceed to accumulate buckets of sweat in places which no person should ever sweat. This is followed by 30 minutes of lunchtime. Some students buy their food from the canteen - a popular favourite is plain rice with ketchup? (Not actually on the menu, but they seem to want to buy plain rice and hoard lots of ketchup packets to smear on top.) Others bring theirs from home.

Period 10 and 11
Art time! This often gets messy and is always a fun way to end the busy school week. They recently painted cut outs of themselves full size, and incorporated the human body inquiry topic by sticking pictures of organs and bones on the other side of the paper.

Period 12 and 13
Period 12 begins at 1:10pm and while this is the end of the school day for all the Foundation students, Year 1 and up all work until 2:10pm. During this time I help the teacher with anything that needs to be done - and trust me, there are not enough hours in the day to complete all the things due for the rapidly approaching end of academic year. I try to help with whatever I can to make sure it all gets done.

3:00pm (give or take)
I'm back home briefly, before heading to my guitar lesson. I've only had two lessons, but so far I'm really enjoying it and have been learning lots. When I don't have a voice or guitar lesson I'll usually hopefully use this time to exercise, be it a run upstairs with the gym equipment or a swim in the sea.

My own time to do whatever. I use my laptop, eat dinner, and maybe watch some television or swim in the pool. I usually go to bed between 9:30-10:00pm but I'm trying to get back to earlier bedtimes like I did in the first few months when I was adjusting to a full-time work schedule. I'll say it again: not enough hours in the day.

Hope that was interesting! I realise I haven't posted many photos recently so here are an assortment from the last few months.

Beautiful authentic Indian food with friends

Looking fly at the wedding

Being swag on a bridge

Really cool house I saw (excuse the thumb)

Skinniest water bottle ever