Wednesday, August 10th was my last day teaching the Rohingya kiddos in class. A few days later, I was on a flight with my family to our new home in Italy.
For the last day, we made things fun. First, we did our usual round of compliments, but this time I singled each kid out and, one at a time, with full eye contact and big smiles, I told them just how special they were, and I complimented them on something unique to them – their effort, their focus, their attention to detail, positive attitude, etc. Each kid preened as I let the class know how wonderful I thought they were. I tried to channel Mr. Rogers as best as I could. Turns out, it isn’t hard. Why don’t we channel him more often?
After compliments, I read aloud – an exceedingly basic children’s book called, Stars Near and Far. With the handful of very early English learners in the class, I’ve found that reading a toddler book gets class off to a positive start. These books are very accessible to the new kids, but I suspect they also give a boost of confidence to the kids who’ve been in my class since May of last year.
Of course, I gave a little lesson on the solar system and universe, based on the book. My lessons usually take a jaunt out beyond our atmosphere and this day was no exception. I want these kids to contemplate the enormity of our universe, and to realize just how precious our earth is. I reminded them that we’re all hurling through space together on a big rock that’s perfectly suited to us; we need to remember to work together and get along.
Then I gave them a little lecture about how their success is up to them and them alone. It’s not up to their teachers to motivate them. The teachers can give information and help solve difficult problems. It’s up to them to want to learn. Don’t worry, I kept it quick and to the point.
After that, we discussed how we’ll stay in touch. My plan is to record a video once a month showing a new place we visit in Europe. In the video I’ll ask them to research the location or building or item, and then answer a question or two in a response video. Fortunately, Karina was in the classroom when I explained this, so she repeated the idea in Bahasa Malay to make sure they understood. Here’s the first one.
Then I told them to watch as much Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as they could. I want them to know they’re special and worthwhile. If I can’t be there to remind them, then maybe Mr. Rogers can.
Next – and this is a longshot – I said we could try to stay in touch on reddit/r/GreenDawn. It’s a silly subreddit that I post to on occasion. The idea is to stage little green army men somewhere ordinary, but pose them in such a way so as to make it look like they’ve discovered an enemy fortification, or are standing guard over some military installation. It’s silly, but it makes me giggle, and I find it fun to keep an eye out for good locations where I can pull out the little green army men from my purse and deploy into position.
So we went outside and planted army men. Here are the kids with their men.
The kids positioned a bunch of soldiers all over the yard. We posted one to GreenDawn. I’m so proud of their Alom’s little sniper. Meep. So proud.
Next, my husband arrived with … the unicycles! While we lived in Penang, my husband coached unicycling and sold unicycles. We had some extra stock, so we gave five unicycles to the school. The kids were beyond excited. Look at ’em.
With the help of my husband and our unicycling buddy, Gan, we built up the unicycles in the front yard of the school. Gan, bless his heart, is going to come to the school regularly and teach the kids how to ride. My husband and I had done lessons a few times, but in order to learn, one really must practice about twenty minutes a session, for at least ten or so sessions. We simply didn’t get that many lessons in.
As the kids toodled around on unicycles, I unloaded some donations of books, DVD player, etc – you know – the kinds of things you don’t really pack with you when you up n move, but would be totally useful in a library at a school? Yeah, those kinds of items.
I also brought in the rest of the Positive Discipline materials I’d ordered from the US. Here Karina is posing with me with the DVD sets and books. The teachers have a plan to go through all of the DVD instructions and come to consensus on disciplinary guidelines to follow in every classroom. If nothing else, I hope this program gives the teachers the tools they need to help these kids have confidence and grow curiosity in learning.
After dropping the boxes off, I looked in my purse for my lip balm. Look at what I found. Meep.
What sweethearts. I’m going to miss these kids.
I’m hoping that the teachers take the Positive Discipline training to heart. These kids deserve the best teaching. Also, I’m hoping these monthly videos between myself and the kids work out. We’ll be posting them on this website, so stay tuned. Maybe, moving our lessons over to the internet will allow more people to join in.
My final send off.