be not grieved

we just had another class this morning, on cleanliness this time. I still haven’t explained the project that we’ve been working on over the past few days, so I figured I’d spend a little time doing a regular blog post to keep everybody up to date (I have another lesson plan to post as well, but I haven’t got all the references I need for it).  the week before last was Unity in Diversity week, and I thought it might be appropriate if we put together something special to commemorate it, so we’ve been working on masks that we made using papier-mâché on balloons. it’s been a great activity so far; the kids love using paint and decorating their masks in fun ways that show off the diversity of the human family. I’ll post photos of the masks along with the lesson plan (once it’s ready to post!)

autumnI had a conversation with a friend the other night about how I felt like the class hasn’t really been going anywhere, mainly because of my lack of energy. the fact is, right now, I’m pretty much teaching this class solo, and have been since… well, basically the past year.  Maybe that’s been what’s made me feel a little down and discouraged lately; despite Baha’u’llah’s reassurance that we should not get discouraged even if we perform a certain service alone, I feel like it would be so much easier, and the class would be so much better, if I had a committed co-teacher. right now, I’ve got some of the parents sitting through the class with the children, and a few other people (including family members) on standby.  But I don’t really feel comfortable yet asking any of them to step up and take a stronger role in the class.  This is going to be more and more important for this class in the near future, mainly because I’m making plans to do some service overseas in the spring of 2009, which means either someone else steps up to the plate or the class is no more.  I suppose I’m blowing things up a little too much; if God wills it, brave souls will arise to help if the situation becomes too dire. We are, after all, committed to the core activities as a community, and the sudden unavailability of one teacher should be easily remedied by bringing in new people as teaching resources.  We’re fortunate in Ottawa, too; there are lots of people who are trained as teachers.  It doesn’t always feel that way—because there are so many classes to teach that we get spread pretty thinly—but really, we are blessed to have a strong, growing Baha’i community where people are becoming involved more and more.  So basically, I shouldn’t worry, or as Baha’u’llah says, “be not grieved if thou performest it thyself alone.”

cleanliness (take 2)

Today’s lesson: cleanliness.

November 22, 2008: 1.5 hours, 4 children, average ages 9 and 5. the lesson itself was very short today. we had a quick conversation about cleanliness, pointing out several different ways of keeping clean (showers, baths, wearing clean clothes, brushing teeth, washing hands, trimming nails, and so on), and then looked at one of the quotes above: “…Although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  We set a 16×16 grid on the floor and used it to play a game sort of like hopscotch – words of the quote were placed in order throughout the grid and the children had to hop on each of the squares in order to complete the quote. After that, we continued with the masks we were working on last week.  I was going to encourage them to observe cleanliness during that activity, but we still got paint and glitter all over, because my mind was everywhere trying to keep everything else going.  You know, one kid needs help cutting while the next one wants more paint and the next one says he’s starving and wants a snack. And so on. Overall, a short lesson, the delivery wasn’t perfect, but at least we made some effort to examine a quote – which we’ve been lacking so far this year.

unity in diversity

Today’s lesson: unity in diversity.

more masks6 kids, a few 5-yr-olds, a few 9-yr-olds. 1.5 hrs. Class was successful thanks to the quality of the help! My brother came to help with the activity, and he also helped out with maintaining order. It really makes a difference having someone in the class who actually knows how to maintain discipline. He did a fantastic job.

This week’s activity was papier-maché masks to celebrate unity and diversity week (November 9 to 15, 2008). This is one of those times where I was so engrossed with the craft that I forgot to really develop the theme, but with brother there it went well. He basically ran with what I started out with and ended up presenting the whole lesson; he was also very firm with discipline and gave the kids a structure to fit into—which he spoke to me about afterwards. Let’s just say I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’ll be doing some serious reflection on discipline in the next little while.

Other reflections? Definitely need to work on developing the class’s theme, maybe through having a better plan for the activities. If I’d thought ahead a little more, we could have had sample masks or mask designs available to inspire the kids in their designs. The whole thing took a lot longer than I had expected, too—since everything had to dry, of course—which limited what we were able to accomplish. Overall, lots of food for thought from this lesson 😛

kindness to the poor (take 2)

Today’s lesson: kindness to the poor.

November 1, 2008: 1.5 hrs, 3 kids: 9, 9, 5.  Revived the poverty card game from previous years. it was a hit, just like last time. this time, was able to make them a bit nicer (backed the printouts with card stock); still, was a little hectic–didn’t have same amounts of each six “essentials”; took a while to figure it out for the game.  the kids didn’t mind though, because they just kept on playing it and loving it. made for quite a few good conversation points, and we discussed lots of the concepts behind the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty. had lots of help, especially considering the fewness of the kids who came. the rest must have been sick from eating all the halloween candy, dunno.  All in all, a good class, even though I overshot our time a little and ended up having no time to work on the craft I had planned (masks, for Unity in Diversity week that comes in two weeks).