I’ve been feeling sorry for my fourth grade class lately.
I was given a really awful book to work on with them. It was too difficult and too grammar-focused for them to really understand, given that they were being taught it by someone who can’t explain the more difficult concepts to them in their own language. I know adults who are native speakers of English and would struggle with the exercises in that book.
We can’t change it, it’s too expensive, Jennifer informed me after I struggled for a few weeks and then reported the problem to her. Do what you have to do – skip the difficult writing exercises and get them to talk about the topics instead. But we can’t get another book for a few months.
It has been a long few months.
Every time I told them to take out their books, they sighed and groaned in a way that that bright, intelligent, and normally enthusiastic class never had before. I created worksheets and games, I broke it up with video clips and songs, I eliminated the impossible stuff and focused on theme-based discussions… but they hated that book. As did I.
Look, I promise, if you’re patient and try hard even though it’s boring, we’ll do something fun to celebrate when we finish the book, I told them in desperation, feeling truly guilty for being the one inflicting these soul-destroyingly dull lessons on them. They perked up. Can we have a pizza party? they chorused, seven hopeful young faces turning towards me.
And so this afternoon I ordered pizza and chicken, and nipped out to the shop for some random unhealthy junk food. When I got back, the pizza and chicken had arrived, along with my class, who had been informed by the director that it was for them.
Oh, teacher, thank you thank you thank you! cried Daisy in the manner of someone receiving a sparkling new sports car or a fortnight in Barbados, hurtling towards me and nearly knocking me over with a somewhat awkward bear hug. These children are all too ‘grown up’ now to hug me like the little ones do, but clearly a pizza party changes things somewhat. I have never seen them display such childish excitement. Do they not get fed at home, or what?!
And so we had our pizza party, and they were allowed to speak in Korean for once, and it was like Christmas Day with me as Santa. Not a word of English was learned. And sometimes, that’s OK. :)