Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit like this.
It’s not that I don’t still enjoy teaching or that I don’t still adore my students. I think I’m just growing weary of my surroundings, of my routines, of the daily annoyances that wind me up and grind me down, and as a result, my enthusiasm and performance at work have taken a dive. It’s been time to move on for quite a while now, and ignoring it and clinging on to my nice, safe, comfortable world was not the right thing to do.
However, as you know, I am now making real plans for my next move, and in the meantime I’m trying to find ways to make things better at work. Today, after a week of boredom, isolation, irritation, frustration, and impatience, I rested my head on my desk in desperate exhaustion at the thought of my last class of the day – my once a week after-school class, which basically amounts to glorified babysitting. Normally, I do worksheets and grammar-related stuff with them, which, after a full day at school, is a total disaster. They’re tired and badly-behaved, I’m tired and irritable, and we all leave the classroom after the longest 40 minutes of the week with angry glares and sulky expressions, hating each other.
I couldn’t face it today, I just couldn’t. Having had a relatively pain-free morning of art classes with the younger kids, I decided to cheat and just do the very same activity with the Nightmare Class. Of course, being a little older and actually able to hold a pair of scissors without assistance, they weren’t going to take as long to complete the simple craft (making a paper octopus), so I did a last-minute Google search for a related time-filler activity. That’s how I ended up dashing to the shop for a packet of spaghetti and some mini hotdog sausages – and how my wearisome week finally became fun!
First, I showed them my “here’s one I made earlier” paper octopus, and we talked about how many legs it has, where it lives, what it does, etc. Then I gave them each half a mini hotdog, and they counted 8 pieces of spaghetti which they carefully stuck into their hotdog.
We each dropped our octopus into a pot of water to “swim” for a while.
While they were cooking – erm, “swimming” – the kids got to work with crayons and scissors and glue to make these cute creations. We listened to “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles as we worked, of course!
And by the time they were finished and had (willingly and cheerfully!!) cleared away all the materials, the octopus hotdogs (legs now properly soft and wiggly!) were done swimming and ready to hop on to the waiting plates!
Honestly, I’ve never had that 40 minutes feel more like 10 minutes than 5 hours. The kids spoke English the whole time, and the room was filled with laughter instead of shouting and whining. God bless the internet!
Unfortunately, I can’t do fun stuff like that in every single class I teach – not only would I have complaints from parents about the lack of Good Hard Work, but the planning, preparation, and cleaning involved would lead to me spending even more extra unpaid hours at work than I already do. Once in a while, though, it’s a welcome break. For Hayley Teacher, as well as for the kiddos!