As I walk to work in the mornings, I see a giant green truck with a soft cover, resembling something you’d see driving along a US army base. A man rides in back, hanging one leg over the side. When the truck comes to a stops the man lowers the back door and children, impeccably dressed in checkered kiras and ghos, pile out and scatter toward the playground.
School has officially begun in Thimpu!
My homeroom class has named themselves The Firecrackers. I couldn’t be more ecstatic with the name, seeing as though I had already planed a unit on finding your “spark”. Also because “J Jennifer” didn’t win. You will be happy to know we have our own class handshake in which we bump it and blow it up, and we also have class songs such as Dynamite.
Throughout the school day, I continuously find myself silently proclaiming that I have found a new favorite student. The favorite changes about every 10 minutes.
First, it was the class clown, a complete spitfire, and the very reason I changed the whole class positive behavior support system on the fly within the first ten minutes of class. Mr. Class Clown is a peanut, and fulfills many of the beautiful stereotypes associated with this particular type of student. One example was when the students were decorating their 3 H’s for helping others; head, heart, and hands. Mr. Class Clown pinballed around, popping up and down from his seat to occasionally harass a peer, then hopped on over to me and showed me some of the things he keeps in his heart, one of which was my name. Well played sir!
Later that day, I reigned in chatty Mr. Class Clown and two of his partners in crime to “tell them a secret”. We all know it is scientifically proven that the only ways to get kids to really listen is to call a huddle. The three became quiet. They got a real kick out of it when I proceeded to whisper, "I wasn’t born yesterday.” We all smiled, and I hopped back on the positive behavior support train to try and minimize the chaos.
Next, I noticed a student with a goofy grin between his large ears. He walks with an awkward swagger and turned out feet. At first glance, you might pin him as the self-conscious type; only to find out later that you were wrong. When I turned on the first song, which the class earned by behaving, I figured all the students would want to dance around. Instead, the entire class pleaded with me to allow the best dancer in the class to go to the front, and entertain them. It was a good thing my little awkward man had come in at recess while his peers were out playing. He had explained that he needed to put his sole inserts into his shoes to combat his flat feet. Little did I know, those feet could dance! The entire class clapped to the beat as my new favorite student popped it, locked it, dropped it, you name it. No wonder his peers requested an encore the next time the class earned a song. I got to see how respected he was among his peers when he swept the competition in becoming voted the first “Class Captain”.
Next, I assigned the students a few questions that the principle of our school wants to focus on this year. I asked the students write what they were passionate about. I explained that something you are passionate about is something you care a lot for; something that makes you light up inside or gets you out of bed in the morning. As the students were writing, one pulled me aside and said, ”Madame Jennifer, is this okay?” His journal said: “My alarm clock gets me up in the morning”. My new favorite student was Mr. Literal.
As the day rolled on, my favorites changed continually. There was the boy whose hopes and dreams were to “see his mother’s face again” because she had been in America working for the past 3 years. There was also the girl who loaned me a bowl of rice at lunch because each and every child in the class insists that I try at least one bite of their lunch; 22 courses later.
As cliche as it sounds, teaching is what I am passionate about. I am happy to say that, along with my alarm clock, my students get me up in the morning.