Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Today, I had a revelation. I now completely understand why Adam does not want to go into Pediatrics.
Background: I have a temporary schedule for the month of September, while my school phases out another foreign teacher from the Small International Class. That means I teach the Big International Class (12 4- and 5-year old boys!) per usual and then I will start with the other class in a month. In the mean time, I spend 15 to 20 minutes with the "normal" (read: Chinese) classes twice per week. My presence is pretty much the only English these kids get.
Most of the time, the kids look at me with big eyes and gaping mouths. I usually start off with a song, everyone introduces themselves (though a few don't have English names), and then we sing the song again at the end. I have never in my life sung the Eensy Weensy Spider so much!! When I was telling Adam this, his response was "Wait--you don't actually sing, do you? You subject those kids to your singing?!" Um, yes. And clearly, as I am the only English speaker, I am the only singer. The kids make some sounds, follow the hand motions the 2nd or 3rd time around (mouths hanging open the 1st time), and the teachers do try their best to follow or motivate the kids. Their participation definitely depends on their age, but it's been ok so far. Until this morning...
I walked into the smallest class, consisting of 15 or so 2- and young 3-year old kids, while they were finishing a snack. Now, one of the kids was already crying. As soon as I entered, half of them burst into tears and ran to one of the 3 Chinese teachers in the room. The rest just started at me, open-mouthed, as if they had no idea what to do or think. I have been working with kids pretty much my entire life, and my presence has caused a wide-range of emotions: cursing (Bronx), hugging (babysitting), waving hello (camp)...but screaming? Not in recent memory. So the teachers gathered the kids and they sat in a row with me in front of them. One of the teacheres even sat next to me with a puppet. We sang the Eensy Weensy Spider....tears. We sang it again....more tears. I said "My name is Alison" and they howled. One teacher suggested "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes," but I didn't want to stand up or make any sudden movements, for fear of screaming, so I chose a much more familiar, softer song: "Twinkle, Twinkle." Yes, I even used hand motions that they could imitate, but the only result was more crying!! We sang it again, and that was it for me. I felt like I was just making the situation worse, the teachers were overwhelmed with the number of criers on their hands, and I couldn't do or say anything to comfort these little ones. I said thank you, goodbye to the kids (tears and sniffles), and went on my merry way.
I could not take that on a regular basis! Last fall, Adam described his Peds rotation as 30 minutes of trying to get the kid distracted by singing, using stuffed animals, checking out every member of the kid's family, etc, only to accomplish a very short medical exam. That's what I felt like when I was with this class; they must have thought I had a white coat on and a syringe in my hand because that's how they looked at me. I'm looking forward to having my own group of small kids next month so they gradually adjust to me and I feel like I can actually teach.
For the most part, I am enjoying my time with the Big Class. It is a definite change from middle school in NY! (ps: Happy 1st Day of School!)

1 comment:

  1. Don't be too discouraged - as you pointed out, one of the kids was already crying before you got there, so they already had the crying bug. A little kid on the subway today was all excited to say 'Hi' to me, and couldn't have been more than 4, so perhaps you won't incite tears all the time!