As a teacher, I have found that I really don’t know anything about my students until I see them in their element. The classroom can be a great learning environment for some, but not all thrive there because it is a place in which students do not necessarily want to be, but rather somewhere they are forced. I try so hard to get in touch with my students and see things at their level. I am constantly remembering back to the times when I was in elementary school and trying to relate to them. It’s almost impossible for teachers to genuinely understand what their students are going through, but the most interesting thing about teaching is to step outside of the four walls of the classroom and see your real students, uninhibited and excelling in the areas they want to excel.
Yesterday I took some of my planning time to watch the school’s music festival. I was pleasantly surprised to see some excellent singers, drummers, and recorder players. The singing was absolutely adorable. It was great to see some of the students I would least suspect get up on stage all alone and belt out a tune (boys and girls alike). The Korean drumming was the most impressive. A Korean drum kind of looks like a bongo drum on its side. The player sits on the ground with the drum in front of them and beats the two sides of the drum with the drumsticks. It is very precise, fast, and does not look easy by any means. Groups of three or four students came up to the stage and played in perfect sync without reading any music. The concentration and look of enjoyment on their faces was priceless. To see them not fighting or yelling at each other, but rather playing together in perfect harmony proved to me what these students are really capable of. One 6th grade girl played the drums by herself and was absolutely amazing. The girls that I never thought would have the guts and the boys who I never thought could sit still and focus for more than a second put on an incredible performance.
In the afternoons I teach 5th and 6th graders all by myself. Most days go smoothly but the boys always find a way to mix it up a little. Last week one of the sixth grade boys proceeded to let loose 3 dragonflies into the classroom simultaneously. Do you know how loud three dragon flies can sound when they are fluttering around a classroom? All of the students were screaming and I knew this was not a good sign of how the rest of the class was going to go. Thankfully the boy that did this is not as mischievous as some and after I explained to him the inappropriateness of his actions (along with my fear of insects) he apologized, bowed, and collected all three rather quickly and threw them out the window. Yesterday, this same student proceeded to bring in a frog, which was almost microscopic into the classroom. (don’t worry I took a picture) Again, this was very distracting to the students, but I calmly told him to put it away or put it outside. As a teacher sometimes our instincts are to yell or get upset about minor things. I just have to keep reminding myself that the classroom is not the place where these children want to be. They come in the classroom from a busy day, they might be tired or hungry, they come in with personal issues from home, and sometimes even insects. Maybe someday Dragonfly Boy will be a famous researcher or veterinarian. One thing is for sure is that his element is not the classroom but playing outside and finding insects. For now he has to try and endure my English class without bringing any more experiments from the great outdoors.