(For those of you who have no idea what the phrase is about, go read Anne of Avonlea, by Lucy Maud Montgomery.)
Yes, I am now the Health class teacher, and very interesting work it is. My class is a half-hour long, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00, and I have eleven students. Most of them are 3rd graders, but I believe there are a couple 4th and 5th graders as well.
There’s no denying I was a little nervous on Wednesday as I faced a classroom for the first time. The kids understand English fairly well, but it is their second language, and I wasn’t sure whether it was all going over their heads, or if some of it, by any blessed chance, was sticking. Now I’ve taught a couple more times and gotten my confidence up a little.
That first morning, after introducing myself and explaining where I was from, I broke the ice a little with my students by playing a game with them. Pastor Jim had recommended it as a way for me to get to know the kid’s names. I explained that I was going to go to each one and try to guess their name; if I failed, then they would get a piece of candy (an Everlasting Gobstopper, my ‘traveling’ candy). I went up to the first little girl. “Let me see—I’m guessing your name is…Maud?” She shook her head, giggling behind her hand at my failure as a mind-reader. “Gladys?” Again she shook her head. “Ethel? Well, I’m just going to have to give you a piece of candy then, because I can’t seem to guess it! What is your name?” And so on and so forth. The kids thought it was hilarious….and tasty, and I got all of their names, all though I’m still working at pronouncing those names and matching them up with the right kids!
I started in right away on oral health, giving each child in the class a toothbrush and some toothpaste. We have a ‘Clean Teeth Chart’ that I printed up—if they brushed their teeth the day before, they get to put a star on their block on the chart. If they have brushed their teeth every day or so by the time I leave, they’ll get a prize I brought from home. So far, all but two in the class have been brushing.
( Note: The dental situation is just as bad as I was told it was. Actually, the students in my class have some of the best teeth in the school! I help Miss Emi with the 1st and 2nd graders reading lessons, so I have observed their teeth up close. Even though they’re just baby teeth, it’s frightening to see how cavity-laden and blackened they already are. A dentist in the States would have a fit!)
The 1st and 2nd graders are all absolutely adorable. I’m going to have to take some pictures of the class to put on here. They all view me with a certain amount of awe, since I come from far-off, rich America! When I come into the class in the morning, they all, all thirty of them or thereabouts, turn toward me and say in unison, “GOOD MORNING, MISS ANNA!” I reply, “Good morning to you, too!” Then they say, again in perfect unison, “HOW ARE YOU THIS MORNING?” I answer, “I am well. And how are you?” to which they say, “WE ARE WELL, THANK YOU, MISS ANNA.” Then they take turns peeking at me while Miss Emi reads them their Bible story.
I really enjoy helping them read—I’m amazed at how proficient some of them have gotten with their English reading. Miss Emi and the other teachers do a really fantastic job working with them, especially since a lot of the materials they work with aren’t exactly new. What impresses me most about the little kids is the huge desire they have to learn this stuff. I don’t remember being exactly thrilled with the prospect of learning when I was their age.
I’ll try to take and post some more pictures later. Thanks for reading!