Right in the beginning of the school year, I would make it very clear to my students that we sometimes have to vote as a group to decide which fun activities we will do in class; however, I AM the teacher and I AM still in charge of the class. (Hehehe. Sometimes, I feel like telling them to their faces that “I am the BOSS”.) Often, I tell my students that we literally live together 6 hours a day in the classroom which is like our second home; therefore, we have to work together to take care of the environment we live in. I don’t claim to be the most organized person in the world, but my students certainly know that we all have to chip in to care for our classroom. I have noticed that it works really well if I lay down the law clearly right away in September. I guess I am the head of this one big "family".
Some teachers are warm and fuzzy like a mother hen who often speaks sweetly and softly to their students. I always want to be like one of them. Sadly, I am NOT! I think it is more like a personality thing. No matter how much I tried, I am loud and firm. (Note 1) I think I present myself more like a “father” who explains logical rationales or disciplines to children. I don’t mind playing sports such as soccer, basket ball or badminton with them. (Note 2) I love tricking them when asking questions in class and joking with them just like my father used to do. I would rather personally stay in with them at recess as a consequence for their misbehaving and they would not be able to get away with anything. I always tell my students that I will try to make learning fun but I am “tricky” which means that I will ask them many questions to make sure that they fully understand my instruction and won’t get confused.
Having the pain of losing my father at his prime age, I often thought much about those children who grow up without a father figure. Unfortunately, that group of children has been growing every year. One year, more than half of my class came from single parent families. I don’t blame those parents who sought divorce to break up a family because, in truth, there are too many reasons for a marriage not to work out. It is sad that those children can only live with one parent at any given time; however, it is certainly not a great idea for children to grow up in a family with two unhappy parents or in a conflicting environment anyway.
I am in touch with so many wonderful single parents who are trying their best to provide the best opportunities they could offer to their children. I have to give them credits for trying hard. However, there is a group of parents whose behaviour really irks me! Here is the little story to give you an idea about those parents.
BB was not a student of mine but in a class next to me. I knew his older brother because he was in trouble a lot in Grade One. The older brother was later identified with special needs and got a lot of extra help at school. (Apparently, he is doing better now.) BB was different from his older brother. He was a gentle kid but also required remedial academic support. One day he was very excited and announced to his teacher that it was his birthday that day and his father was coming to take him out. That was big news because his father did not have much spare time for BB and his siblings. It turned out that his father had more than five wives and was unmarried to any of them. He had at least 18 children with those mothers but the father did not live with any of the women. He simply just slept around!
The day after BB’s birthday, he looked unusually quiet which did not sound like a boy who just had his birthday. His teacher asked him what he did for his birthday. He replied that he waited and waited for his father but his dad never showed up to take him out for his birthday. He said, “My dad has too many wives and kids. He does not have time for us.” It broke my heart just listening to that comment from an 8-year-old boy! BB is not alone though. How sad! Nowadays, we have so many children growing up in weird and dysfunctional families such as this one. I know BB’s mother is trying her best to care for them, but how about the missing father who only shows up once in a while like a travelling magician and has no responsibility to care for any of his own kids, all 18 of them or more? Who knows?
I have a lot of friends who are single dads or single moms who care so much about their children. They would kill to have more time with their children and to care for them. I also have many other friends who could not successfully bear children and have taken so many attempts to conceive, to the point that the health is ruined. On the other hand, I look at these children, such as BB and his siblings, who desperately yearn for love from their missing parents. What is going on in this world? I am very sad for those parents-want-to-be but upset with this type of irresponsible occasional parents.
I called BB to me at one recess when he passed by my classroom. I asked him if he finally had his birthday party. The answer was till negative. I did not make any comment. Then I told him to pick a birthday toy from my special Rubbermaid box. He did, and that was the least I could do for him.
I always tell my students not to fool around because I can easily catch what they are doing. Children are often surprised how I figure things out. I usually reply that it is because I have “six eyes”. Well, I am not a fortune-teller. I am just good at using a little child psychology and my peripheral vision to catch things.
My active involvement in the children's activities caused my pain for so many times. I jammed my neck once when demonstrating gymnastics and later got the nickname “Nadia” from my fellow teachers. I even had a minor concussion one time when I was trying not to trip over a kindergarten kid during a game. In order to avoid landing on top of him, I ended up flying over the boy and landed on my right side with my head down first. I am glad that I did not become blind and I can still walk. At least, I didn't hurt or kill him. Hehehe.)