Friday, December 02, 2005

Dealing with Difficult People

Nathan and I have been dreading going back to work. We both seem to get sick on the Friday that we need to be at the school we have been assigned to teach at. Today I prayed and planned out a lesson. I chose the classic Christmas poem "Twas The Night Before Chirstmas" by Clement Moore. The problem is not with the children. These are the kids of some of the wealthiest people in the city. They are bright and eager to learn. My problem is with the teacher. Here the learning is teacher centered. If the answers given are not perfect then the students are not rewarded. I tend to give credit for effort. I can hear the children making progress. And learning a new language is hard. If the children act childlike that is frowned upon. Well, even I was laughing at the description of Santa in the poem. As you read it visualize how St. Nicholas looks. The boys were reprimanded for laughing. I felt criticised when I met with her because she thought the poem was too difficult, the print too small and the subject not interesting enough to hold the childrens attention. She was into what Tom calls the "automatic no" mode. I realised in those moments of speaking with her that it was not about me, but, about her mentality. I was doing things differently. And different... is not the same as wrong.

'Twas the night before Christmas
1: 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
2: Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
3: The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
4: In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
5: The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
6: While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
7: And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
8: Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap;

9: When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
10: I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
11: Away to the window I flew like a flash,
12: Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
13: The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
14: Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
15: When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
16: But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
17: With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
18: I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
19: More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
20: And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

21: "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
22: On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
23: To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
24: Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
25: As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
26: When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
27: So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
28: With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
29: And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
30: The prancing and pawing of each little hoof --

31: As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
32: Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
33: He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
34: And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
35: A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
36: And he look'd like a pedlar just opening his pack.
37: His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
38: His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
39: His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
40: And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

41: The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
42: And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
43: He had a broad face and a little round belly,
44: That shook when he laughed, like a bowlfull of jelly.
45: He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
46: And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
47: A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
48: Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
49: He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
50: And fill'd all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

51: And laying his finger aside of his nose,
52: And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
53: He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
54: And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
55: But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
56: "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

I was able to work with them line by line and they were able to recite lines 1 through 18 as a group. We also had them do it one by one. The are many teacher resources online and I found a 'seek and find' word game with words from the poem in it. That was a major hit. The kids got engrossed in seeking out the words. Plus, they learned the English words for horizontal, diagonal, backwards and vertical!

When class was over the kids clapped! And I let them take the papers home. They were excited about the "gift!" Outside, three of the boys found me as I was walking to the bus stop. We had a great conversation about cars, what countries we have visited and where we were all born. One of the boys had been to France, Japan and Italy. The teacher had told them that I don't speak Russian so they were VERY suprised when I did. Our conversation was half in Russian and half in English. They were quite impressed that I knew what a Hummer was when one passed us on the street. Even more impressed when I told them the trivia that I knew about Arnold Swarzeneggar owning the first one in America! ( I know that from watching cable TV!)

They stayed with me until my bus came. I know now who I am truly working for. Tom and I talked about the fact that we are here working for God's glory. Not for the praise of people. It does not matter if the teacher ever compliments me. I see the faces of the children light up when I walk into the room. I remember how I felt when the music teacher or the art teacher showed up! That is my role here. It is my turn to be the bright spot 2 times a month for some child. Is that a major sacrifice? Hardly.

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