Little Gypsy Witch

Children need to be loved, not hit.

In Volunteerism on September 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

I have experienced my first week at the school in Kui Buri and it has been absolutely gorgeous! The Thai children are ambitious, joyful, and so grateful. The teachers I am working with are phenomenal and although the language barrier is complicated we have found ways to communicate.

Actually, I forget sometimes that the children don’t speak English because they are just so engaged in the learning.

 

I am finding so much pleasure in coming up with lesson plans and usually spend my evenings scheming up fun ways to spark interest from the kids. I came prepared to teach with a plethora of Visual material and I’m so glad I did—  I am utilizing everything I have and the kids seem to be responding!

The first week: we worked with Alphabet flashcards and pictures so they could start identifying objects with letters. They learned colors and got an understanding of the rainbow through clay and drawing. I had them trace their hands, we discussed the names of each finger, wrote “Rainbow” and then colored each finger. They had a ball learning “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and it was a great way to teach them parts of the body. It was fun to see their concentration as I had them draw their own face and identify the parts.

I’ve been introducing new lessons with a fun movement exercise (or game) which helps spark understanding- I follow up the next day with a list of Vocabulary terms and repeat the exercise from the previous day. Repetition and consistency has helped them get use to my teaching style and they seem to be absorbing very well. I can see their little brains so active and alive with excitement at each new success and… it’s thrilling to watch.

The teachers have been so accommodating: offering whatever supplies I need, photocopying material, assisting when language becomes an issue and literally filling my tummy with delicious food! Every morning teachers bring me yogurt, fruit, water, or some form of Thai goodness! Lunch is always offered to me and even when I’m not hungry I end up eating anyways! Giving food is a sign of good merit here and, at the school it is a kind display of appreciation.

If I could have hoped for my teaching experience in Thailand to be a certain way- this is exactly how it would have looked in my head. I have complete liberty to coordinate the flow of my classroom, create lessons which I feel will benefit the kids, and control how  things are presented them.

I believe that if something is FUN people will want to do more of it– teaching and learning are no different– it’s working and I’m sticking with it!

Each morning all the kids at the school congregate for prayer, dance, and song. It is something truly special to watch. The principle usually makes announcements and recently asked “Who would like to learn English from Gina?” Every single kid at the school raised their hand. That was a really special moment for me.

My students really want to learn from me and it is really rewarding. Right now I am teaching 5 classes, Monday-Friday, Ages 4-9 — sometimes after I am done teaching I stay with the young kids just to watch them at nap time. It is probably the most adorable thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life. The energy and enthusiasm in these kids is remarkable. Walking through the school I am overwhelmed by tiny Thai voices calling: “Kru (teacher) Gina! Sa-watdii Ka! (Good Day)”. In English at the beginning and end of every class they say “Thank you Teacher” and from day one I fell in love…

My second week is progressing beautifully and I will post those pictures soon. I am continuing to learn how to handle living and working here while I adjust to how it all works.  I know my connection with the kids is only going to grow stronger- that actually seems like the easy part. There is some kind of wonderful energy vibrating through the teaching and learning that is happening right now. Mutual Respect and Gratitude —  it is uplifting and heart-opening. It was important for me to bring myself to this experience and I feel that who I am and what I have to offer is really valuable here.

I am where I am meant to be right now and that is such a great feeling.

 

On a slightly different note, I would like to share my latest journal entry on 09/07/11:
I am having compassionate thoughts today- they are bringing me sadness. When I raise my hand to give the kids at school high fives many of them flinch as if I am going to hit them- as if they have felt that pain before. It makes me ill inside when the teachers hit the children with bamboo sticks. That’s what they do here. They hit the kids with bamboo sticks.  I am conscious of cultural differences– but, that is definitely not the way I will be teaching. I do not believe that violence in any capacity fosters a healthy place for learning. Children need to be loved, not hit. They need teachers, not masters. They need to be protected and feel safe— not threatened. Security fosters success. Joyful teachers breed joy-filled students. If they are not supported, or not shown how to care for themselves early on— when will they feel it?  My work is not to make kids smarter- or even help them pass an English test. It is to respect them on their journey and guide them to want to learn more— about themselves and the world. I hope to show them love in as many ways as I can and, right now, that is in a classroom… filling them with pride. It is my goal to assist in building confident kids who can develop a love for knowledge. Children posses innate goodness and I really don’t like seeing bitter adults inhibiting that goodness.  I will not take part in being that kind of adult to these kids. I want to let them be and guide lovingly. Let them be kids!  I feel my job here is to ignite enthusiasm,  feed their souls with songs, movement, laughter and lessons that will linger long after I leave. Instead of hitting them, I want to smile with them… and help them feel their power. We are all children- waiting for appreciation, acknowledgment, and reassurance that we matter. Well… I intend to ACKNOWLEDGE these children for their greatness ! We may not speak the same language but my heart speaks loudly and it is affirming: You are absolutely Beautiful and Perfect just as you are. Love Yourself! Create, Explore, LEARN and Believe in the person you were made to be in this world. We are forever bits and pieces of each other— I can only hope to teach you as much as you are teaching me.

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