Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hoppy Palace -- Part 3

I almost quit the Hoppy Kingdom last week, because frankly, I wasn't very hoppy.

A team of six little boys almost did me in.

Now, in general I like little boys. I've (nearly) raised three of my own without, as far as I can tell so far, too much damage to either myself or them.

But teaching six little boys phonics in a teeny tiny room with barely enough room to turn around -- this is another story.

And it's a different set of kids every hour & I'm still having enormous trouble telling them apart. Nor are the kids in groups based on their level, but they are in the group that fits the available time slots... which change from week to week. Each kid has between two and four different workbooks, and are supposed to finish a minimum of 2 pages in one book and 4 pages in the others so mathematically you can see where I am supposed to be able to direct them through a total of ... let's see now... 36 different pages in up to 24 different workbooks... within an hour's time -- make that thirty minutes as half an hour is supposed to be devoted to games and group "phonics blending" exercises... I am also discovering that they may or may not be in workbooks that are actually appropriate to their particular level. But that too is another story.

In this particular hour, three year old Chen keeps falling asleep and each time I manage to wake him up we have to start all over again with the instructions.

Poor little Marcus also three years old, can't write yet (unusual, it seems, for the progressive Chinese) and needs me to hold his hand when tracing letters of the alphabet.

Arthur and De, both around five years old, are fighting over the use of the pencil sharpener. This seems like a possibly dangerous situation.

Shan has raced ahead in his workbook and wants me to check his work.

Li has arrived in a part of his workbook where he is supposed to match words and pictures, but the pictures are so weird that even I have trouble deciphering which picture goes with which word.

"Teacher, I'm finished!" says Shan.

"Teacher, I need a new pencil", says Arthur.

Li just sits there, looking frustrated.

Marcus has started just scribbling over his entire workbook.

De doesn't know which page he should be on.

I'm thankful that Chen is asleep again; I don't need to worry about him !!

My teaching teacher calls out through the open door: "It's time for you to move on to the phonics blending exercises with them."

"I need to go to the bathroom" says Arthur. Or is that Li?

I also still need to write a personal "progress report" for each child, to hand them before they leave. "And don't write anything negative" I have been reminded several times. "Parents don't like that."

When the hour is over I go out to meet the parents. Each anxiously waits for my verdict on their son or daughter's progress. "Very hard workers" I say, and they beam. "Arthur, he not too lazy?" asks one Dad. "No, he's a hard worker and he really is learning his English words" I reply, thinking, "I am so sorry, I actually can't even remember which one is Arthur, and I'm going to quit this job."

But I have to hurry back because the next class is waiting. Three exquisite little girls, patiently waiting with folded arms for me to hand them their day's assignments.

Did I mention that I don't get paid for any of these "training hours"? Is this really what I should be doing at this point in my life?

But tomorrow (Friday) I think I will have the first class of my own... where I do get paid. And maybe I will start having some of the same kids so I actually can form some relationships.

Meanwhile, if any of you have any idea for phonics games that are good for six 2 to 8 year olds... including one that may be sleeping... please send me a note.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. --Psalm 62:8

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