Friday, January 29, 2010

Perpetuating the Cycle

So yesterday was a very interesting day, and I’ve been sarcastic for too many days so I’m going to share some real details. I hope you enjoy the pictures though.

I am having so much trouble being in the special ed class and the reasons are numerous. The kids are so far behind and it’s because THEY DON’T DO ANYTHING! I guess I should explain that they do more than last week, but everyone is at such a different level it is impossible to “teach” the class. They are doing worksheets made by the teacher (which she does during class, so they start out drawing until she finishes their assignments) and it is stuff like: “color the bigger circle red and the smaller one blue.” While this is pretty good for the youngest kids, it’s way too easy for some of the older ones. I’ve learned that her Wednesday absences are going to be a weekly thing, so this past Wednesday, when two of the most advanced kids blew through the left work I had them copying numbers 1-10. This to was easy, they know how to write their numbers. Good sign. So I made the next exercise. I wrote a number in the center box, and they had to fill in what came before and after. This they found extremely difficult. I realized they can count, they can write numbers, but if I point to one, they cannot tell me what it is! Big problem, that shouldn’t be so by 7-9. I made some number cards for English, hopefully they will double in this classroom too. But 2 thinks I noted: 1) they didn’t mind being challenged a little and 2) “work together,” a very foreign concept.

The older kids however, the five on the other side of the classroom, list numbers. Each day is another set of 100. They literally have pages and pages of numbers written out in order. Feels very old nun and catholic school to me. They also write different sounds, beginning with a letter of the day, (example: ma, mo, me, met…) but then have a lot of trouble actually pouncing what they are writing.

To me it’s all the same problem. The kids learn to copy what they see, but can’t express what they copy. There is no creativity in the classroom either. They live their lives creatively, making up games all the time and using they toys they have for different things, but if you say they can draw anything they want (I did this on Wednesday) they have NO CLUE what to do with that. They are so used to coloring within the lines.

I think seeing what they come up with in free time would allow so much insight into their thoughts and feelings.

The classroom is most frustrating to me though because it’s hard for me to teach well. I can see the problems and I want to explain it, but that is a challenge when you don’t speak the language. My ability to help is seriously hindered by this.

Ok, here’s another example of how ridged this classroom is. Yesterday, I threw out a folder. I mean a floppy, weak, faded, torn, dirty, empty, on its last day of life folder (that was on the floor and being stepped on). About an hour later teacher asks if I put this in the trash.

“Sure,” I say.

“We don’t do that here,” she replies. And continues to shove it into a cabinet that is so jammed packed with old papers, it looked disguised at having to receive just one more folder.

I appreciate that everything for the school is a donated gift. I also love to reduce, reuse and recycle. But this classroom is so jam packed with years of material, they don’t even know what they have available to them (aka an abacus). Everything is stuffed into cabinets filled to the brim, dusty and usually in pieces. There are so many random photocopies that if you open the wrong door they fall out. There are kids school books and folders who are no longer in the class, let alone the orphanage. And in the corner is a huge pile of toys that are dirty and haven’t been put to use in years. There’s good stuff in there too, like legos. They also have the mats that I want for the baby house, but have, even though they are not being put to use, and that is totally another story! And with the abacus I saw puzzles and all sorts of stuff that just needs to be reassembled, cleaned and organized. They get tons of new school supplies every year, so why not throw out some of the old, freshen up the classroom and take stock? There are probably so fabulous teaching materials and methods hidden away. If it wasn’t locked at night, I would sneak down there and do it myself.

1 comment:

  1. How frustrating! it's your worst Tupper ware cupboard nightmare ever! I would break in and clean the place, how do they expect to learn in chaos? anyway you keep plugging away dear, you are doing great! You seem to be making some changes, no matter how small. As for the potty training girl, I would always start with reward and positive reinforcement. It's doesn't always work but seems to do better than anything else. You have to teach her that it is an accomplishment and something to be proud of. Some kids just need more attention then others. Anyways loved the pictures and love hearing your stories!

    miss ya chica:)