So this is a tad bit late at four weeks in as a student again. I painted this earlier in the month for my Collecting Childhood project to coincide with the new school year but lost track of things with the the art residency at Kadoorie happening and adjusting to student life. It’s been interestingly full.
In elementary school, I used to get a new Crayola watercolour set at the start of the school year. This time round, blue highlighter and Post-it flags. I do miss those watercolour days and the thrill and excitement it held.
Was looking forward to being able to catch school in session in Ghana but never thought I’d get to experience it as a teacher. I was asked if I wanted to take the Basic 3/third grade class as their teacher was absent and they would be sitting in their classroom the whole day by themselves. How can one say no to a group of kids ready to learn?
As it was the first day back from break, there was all school assembly which gave me a little time to look for materials and come up with some sort of a plan. We started off by making name tags–using a small portion of the massive stash of labels discovered during an earlier craft/supply closet clean out. Kids love labels…especially fluorescent ones. One of the girls still had hers on the next day and excitedly showed it to me as I was saying my farewells to the class.
I tried getting the kids to tell me what their school day looked like but that didn’t quite happen so we settled for a list of possible classes: Citizenship, Mathematics, Science, English, Creative Arts, Religious and Moral Education. I of course wanted to know about creative arts. There was some mention of dancing and I asked them to teach but they declined, which was rather disappointing as I have seen several of them dance before and they have got some good moves. We went with story writing in the morning and puppet making in the afternoon. I did eventually come across a timetable. It was hidden in the yellow cupboard in the picture below that I didn’t know was The Class Cupboard.
We had a great day. The sun was shining, there was a breeze blowing and goats were wandering in, out and through our classroom. We read a Dora story–Puppy Takes a Bath and had a discussion about pets, naming pets (not common), characters, setting, problems and solutions.
In the class story we wrote together, Buster the goat (I insisted we name him and that’s what they chose) was chewing my bed and here were some ways to solve the problem:
sack the goat (still not quite sure what that entails)
cane the goat
kill the goat and eat it
I suggested we keep thinking since Buster is a friend and we didn’t want to hurt him. These were our kinder alternatives:
build him his own house outdoors
go to the market and buy him a goat friend so he has someone to play with
grow food in the garden so he can eat that instead of chewing the bed
The rest of the morning was spent planning and writing our own stories.
After lunch, we looked through all our puppet making tools and materials and made either one of our story characters or created anything else we wanted–animal/person/creature.
We concluded the day by sharing our stories and attempting to clean up the art materials which seemed to have blown everywhere. I learned the next morning that I had been unnecessarily concerned at the state we had left the classroom in as clean-up and sweeping is in the schedule–it takes place before school starts.
Quite the experience and there really is not much else more enjoyable and fun than learning with kids.
Chinese International School is on Braemar Hill across the way from Quarry Bay School and I’ve been wanting to see it since being at QBS for EdCamp HK in the spring. I finally got the chance last weekend to look around after the literacy and language development talk that was hosted there. You really do get a sense of what a school is like by the environment they create. Some things I saw and really liked.
Two weeks of school and 1.5 cycles of classes done so I’ve now met all my new K artists and all the first and second graders. The kindergarteners are always the highlight of the new year–learning names, figuring out siblings… and they’re just an especially fun age to work with as so many things are new to them and they are full of personality and enthusiasm. I love being excited about art with them and consider myself very lucky to get to interact with kids most the week. One can learn a lot from 5 -7 year olds!
This school year is also the start of high school for my very first kindergarten homeroom class. Only a few of them are still here but when I run into them in the cafeteria or hallway, I remember my very first day of school as a teacher. It’s been interesting to see the school grow over time and in that process learn to consistently question why we do what we do. I think I also get what this means now.
“Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.” Jonathan Kozol
Not necessarily battles but you do learn what the priorities are and where to focus your energy. Change can be slow but it does happen and I’m so encouraged to see a variety of things moving forward this year.
It’s going to be a good one…186 more days of learning, growing, adventures, fun and excitement.
one of those days that has finally come around again…
being back at school after the break and having kindergarteners tell me first thing in the morning while I’m on bus duty that they LOVE art….and that since it’s Day 3, they’d see me later in class.
feeling like it’s my birthday still… thank you L for Q&A a day…this is going to be five memorable years ; )
evening run and seeing so many groups of kids out running too. And I mean kids on their own, ~6 to 12 years old, running instead of watching the telly or gaming. They really should get their parents out and about. So made my day…I just wish we had been running in the same direction as it would’ve been fun to race them along the river.