Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I teach tykes

I survived my first day of work! And it was lovely! Here are some things I learned:

1. I need to work on how I use my voice, because talking for 3 hours straight is throat scratchingly difficult
2. It is best when the teachers are involved in the music class instead of off in the corner
3. Big slobbery kisses are charming the first time, and then just a little bit slimy
4. ohmygosh these kids are cute
5. 1/2 of them don't speak English...if only I spoke French!
6. Nursery teachers swear an unexpected amount when in the staff room

I taught *6* classes today. I arrived at 8:30 in the morning to meet the head of Early Years again and also to meet the upper school music teacher. I was so afraid I was going to be late- I was so wired that I couldn't fall asleep until 3am last night and then waking up was tough so I didn't leave the house until 20 minutes after I planned to- but instead of taking the estimated hour and a quarter to get there that TFL said it would, it only took 45 minutes- so I was early!) I didn't actually start teaching class until 10 though, so I had a chance to wander in to the classes, meet the teachers, and give a little spiel about what I was going to do. The nursery classes were in the morning, back to back. So I had three classes of 3-4 year olds from 10-11:30.

Here is what we did: First I said hello and introduced myself (that's Miss Casey to you!) and explained that I was the new music teacher. (There isn't really a music room, so I was traveling from room to room with my glockenspiel in a plastic case) Then I said "now that you know my name, can you help me learn yours? Okay, everybody keep this lovely circle and stand up!" So we'd stand up and I'd ask them to make shapes with their bodies for me- a big circle over their heads, lots of superhero poses, a bunch of sort of rocking back and forth nervously, etc. I pointed out nice shapes that kids were doing and got the rest of the group to do them. Then we went around the circle and said our names with a shape.

The idea was to have the group say the name back and also do the shape- in practice this only worked about 40% of the time. The kids would do the shape- but pretty much it was just me saying the name. Or rather, butchering the crap out of their names and needing to be corrected four times before completely forgetting anyway. Six classes, people. SIX CLASSES! And they're all foreign with fancy weird names that I can't pronounce. Little kids speak with lisps anyway, but now imagine a classroom full of accented lisps.

Right, so- now we've gone around the circle and more or less (less) know people's names. Then I ask them to sit down again and bring out the glockenspiel- from here on out referred to as the "xylophone." Does anyone know what this instrument is? No, it's not a piano- close but a piano is played with your fingers and this is played with...? Yes! Mallets. No? No one knows? Oh that is lovely that you have one at home! This is a xylophone. Can we all say xylophone?

So I play them a little tune and ask them what it sounds like. My *favorite* class came up with this gem: "it sounds like butterflies dancing" Awww. That class was full of beautiful, wonderful imagery- we ended up walking around as princesses and tigers and fairies and leaves.

So then they walked to the music when I said "walk" and froze into a shape when I said "shape" I was playing in quarter notes and periodic phrases to get them used to phrase length and listening. I was hoping that some of them would figure out that there was a pattern to when I would say "shape." I think a couple of kids did in the older, reception (kindergarten) classes because I missed one once and extended it a second phrase and they kept saying "shape? shape?" So that was cool.

For some of the classes we paired up and then tried to do the same exercise but with pair shapes instead of solo shapes. I hadn't considered how troublesome it is to get small children to work in pairs. There were always a few tears when choosing the favorite was a little boy and girl who were just bawling at being stuck with each other but then as we played the game they were totally entwined and had the both the best shapes (many involving pulling their mouths out with their fingers to make silly faces) and were absolutely together- the same angles with their bodies and everything. It was incredible how in sync they were- especially considering their mutual crying fits at the beginning of the game. (or maybe their mutual crying fits explain everything?)

So that was all we had time for with the nursery kids. I told them that I would be back next week and we'd do some singing, because we did a lot of dancing this week- didn't we? Then the head teachers would ask them to thank me- sometimes they would and sometimes they would stare at the ceiling. Bye Miss Casey!

Lunch was then at 11:30. 11:30 isn't so early in American time- but Brits rarely eat lunch before 1pm so it was sort of like "oh! Okay. Lunch it is." So I went to the staff room and had a wonderful time talking to some of the other Early years teachers. They're a very welcoming and chatty bunch. There were several whom I felt very comfortable with. I wasn't meant to start teaching again until 12:45 so I took the opportunity to take a stroll through the park. I *love* that the parks are across the street. How lucky am I?!

Afternoon was the reception (kindergarten) classes. They all desperately wanted to play the xylophone as well so we did a bit of passing it around the circle:

"Wow, that was some lovely playing- can someone tell me what animal it sounded like to them?"
"I really liked how smooth that was! Can someone play for me the opposite of that?"
"Wow! That was REALLY LOUD! Can someone else play really quietly for me?"
"Good job! That was REALLY LOUD TOO! Now can someone play quietly?!"

giggle giggle squirm

So whew. Then SIX CLASSES and a meeting with the headmaster later it was all over. Unfortunately my boss had stepped out for the afternoon so I was like do I stay? Do I go? Do I need to talk to someone else? I found the upper school music teacher, spoke quickly about ordering instruments (I started today and already I got to order supplies. Sweet.) and then left to go wander in the V&A before having supper with my favorite RCA artist. Nice.

Oh, and I gave my phone number to a frazzled American mom (3 kids and pregnant with the 4th) for babysitting purposes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Casey. that was a wonderful blog and so descriptive Iimationo could really picture the whole thing. Keep up the good work. G&G