On February 26th, we have a graduation show: my preschool class is finishing their two year preschool program, and graduating to elementary school. This is nice. The graduation show, though, is stressful. We have to put on a big old show to prove to the parents that their money was worth it and their kids now kick butt in English. As the preschool director, it falls upon my head to make sure everything comes off well.
Today, during gym class, we practiced with the six-year-olds. That was as cute as you would ever believe. It's such an easy job directing a performance of six-year-olds: if the kids get it all right, it's really impressive. If they get it wrong and somebody turns the wrong way, it's really cute. You just can't lose! Anyway, the kids did a really good job, considering the graduation show is almost two weeks away.
The seven-year-old kids are working really hard to do a good job, of course.
Well, I was practicing the lines with my class of seven-year-olds during phone teaching today, and the kids really impressed me: they really have their lines down cold! (With one or two exceptions.) The thing about phone teaching, though, is that it's really repetitive and a bit tedious: it's my least favourite afternoon of the month (other than the month when I actually lost my temper at Tom because he was standing in the corner, with his hands over his head and his eyes closed, and still giggling and speaking Korean to Peter). In order to keep myself from shoving a pencil in my ear just to spice things up a bit, I play around with the students on the phone. When I call them, instead of saying "This is Rob teacher," I say, "This is Ashley teacher," and argue with the students about how they know I'm Rob, for sure. Well, today, I had to phone Kevin. "Is this Kevin?"
"No, it isn't. This is Kevin's grandfather."
"No teacher, it's Kevin."
"No. It's Kevin's grandfather!"
"Nice to meet you Kevin's grandfather!"
"Can I please talk to Kevin now?"
Without missing a beat, Kevin says, "OK," waits for five seconds in silence, and then says, "Hello this is Kevin!"
Quick wit, that one. To play along as subtly as that, with a purely verbal joke, over the phone, at seven years old, in his second language, is pretty impressive to me. I laughed out loud. Kevin's awesome. He has these squirrely bright eyes and a face whose entire shape seems to have been created for the express purpose of laughing. He's great.
At lunchtime today, David broke my heart.
During my first four months at SLP, David was in my homeroom class, and he was like one of those tempestuous days when you never know whether, five minutes later, there will be a downpour or a sunny break in the clouds. He was moody, and his bad moods were awful. Few kids manage to sulk on a par with David's epic glowers. He's the smallest kid in the class, asthmatic, with pale skin and eyes that crinkle when he smiles.
Then, in March, a new student joined, named Belle. She was a nice girl, and she and David became best friends. They played together, sat beside each other, and were really sweet. David always picked her when we played name games, and openly told people that he loved her. Their parents became friends, and they played together after school. When Belle broke her collarbone in August, she missed a month, and then came back to school sooner than the doctor's recommendation, so the doctor told her she had to stay in the classroom during lunch and breaktimes, for about four or six weeks after she returned. Every breaktime, David stayed in the classroom with her, colouring or making paper crafts, to keep her company. David's one of my favourite kids because of that kind of stuff: an absolute sweetheart.
Well, over the last two months, Belle has fallen under the spell of Willy, the most charismatic student in the class. He's bright and sociable, he has good ideas for games, and he's funny as anything. Arooh (the other girl in the class) has taken to following him around like a puppy (while Lucas follows her around like a puppy, saying things like "Arooh I love you. I want to give you a present and chocolate and everything!") For the last two weeks, David, always a slow and somewhat picky eater, has been eating even more slowly than before.
Today, as he mulled over his honeyed sweet potatoes, poking them and contemplating them, instead of eating them, I said, "Davarino? Why are you eating so slowly?"
He looked up at me and said "Teacher, in the playtime Belle is say 'don't play' and everyday 'don't play' to me," and his sweet little eyes had this forlorn helplessness that just about melted me right then and there. He was a really sweet kid, and Belle's been spurning him to be another of Willy's groupies. Silly girl doesn't recognize loyalty and sweetness when she sees it. I hope she figures it out before she grows up, that she doesn't become just another of those young ladies who shunts aside the sweet, generous boys who'll take good care of them, for the charismatic guy who attracts people into his group, but then (as Willy does) plays a bit of a tease, never quite letting a person know whether they're really in the group or not, so that they're never sure if they're in or not, so they have to keep working at the guy's approval (and stroke his ego along the way). (Arooh's had some days when he's made her feel totally rejected. . . but then other days Willy can be a really sweet kid.)
Willy has good parents (I've met them). And I've told them point blank about Willy's ability to do this, and Willy's a sweet kid by nature: he'll figure out, between his parents' guidance and his own innate sweetness, that there's a better way to treat his friends, but for now, it's sure sad to see little broken-hearted David's devotion totally ignored.
So, in summary:
Willy's charismatic and charming but unaware just how much influence he has over his classmates
And I'm going to teach adults next month (found a new job) so I don't have to worry so much about issues like that between students, because I know that my students will be adults who can figure such things out on their own.
(Just to show willy's usually a good kid: two stories.
1. Caleb's wife, Heather, brought their baby, Kylie to school to meet the students. The students get so excited to see the baby, they run the risk of mauling her, so Caleb and Heather have to set clear limits on how much they can bug her. Paul reached over, once, and touched Kylie on the nose. To head off a swarm of hands that would follow, Caleb said, "Paul, please don't touch her."
Willy commented, "Yeah. When they're little they die really easily."
2. During the same phone teaching afternoon when Kevin cut me up, I asked Willy, "What special day is it tomorrow?"
"What will you do for Valentine's day?"
"Give chocolate to the teachers."
"Will you give chocolate to Ellen teacher?"
"Of course, teacher." (He's taken to saying, "of course," lately).
"Will you give Ellen teacher a lot of chocolate?"
"How much chocolate will you bring for Ellen teacher?"
"Maybe she will die."
He's not a bad kid. He just doesn't realize how much he influences his group of friends.)
OK. Enough for now.
Love you all! Take care.