consultation brings unity (take 2)

Today’s lesson: consultation brings unity.

May 30, 2014: 7 children, aged 6–10. The weather has been really beautiful lately, so when the children asked if we could sit outside for class we gladly obliged. Normally, this also helps us to attract other children who are playing outside, but this time very few people were around—as we found out later, there was a family gathering taking place, and they only came out around the end of class.

Things started out fairly well, but we had some hiccups—probably due to a combination of things: lack of coordination between teachers before the class, the general lack of a “game plan” on discipline, and the perennial issue of age gaps. First, we (as teachers) found ourselves conferring together several times during the class to discuss next steps, which led to breaks in discipline. Second, we ended up having some disruptive behaviour involving one of our young friends who joined late—the younger sibling of one of our long-time students—which we should have expected. I’m not really happy with the way I handled the situation: Although he seemed to be the source of most of the disruption, I feel like I singled him out a little too much without acknowledging that others were also involved in distracting behaviours (like tearing grass from the ground). Our preferred course of action, of course, would be to have him attend the class aimed at younger children that’s meant to begin next week, but there’s no telling whether he’ll accept to attend it, as his older brothers (including a 13-year-old who hasn’t yet shown interest in a junior youth group) will be attending class right next door to his home. We’ll see how this plays out soon, as we’re scheduled to begin the new class for younger children next week.

The positive side? Well, this is one of those times that make us appreciate having co-teachers, as we managed to get a hold of discipline while keeping activities going for the rest of the children. Things did quiet down in the end, and I did follow up with our young friend afterwards to let him know that I appreciated his effort to restrain himself during the rest of the class. After splitting into two activity stations—one for colouring and drawing, and one for a puzzle that spelled out “unity”—we released the children to play soccer/football with their cousins who had assembled outside. We took the opportunity to mingle with the families, some of whom used to live in the neighbourhood, and whom we hadn’t seen in a long time. I hung around a little longer, and spent time talking to a very pure-hearted youth about prayer, faith, patience, and growing up.

consultation brings unity (take 1)

Today’s lesson: consultation brings unity.

May 23, 2014: 8 children, aged 6–13(!). This was a fun, and slightly crazy, class with plenty of movement. We started a new lesson today, after having spent the past few weeks introducing the topic of consultation. The class started and ended early to accommodate our host family, who had to leave to attend a family get-together. Two girls from the neighbourhood who hadn’t attended the class in a while showed up, which was great to see. After starting with prayers, we reviewed the story of the king’s elephant from Lesson 19 in Ruhi Book 3, Grade 2, and then launched into the meat of Lesson 20, beginning with some warm-up games.

After doing our regular stretches, we asked the children to pick a role to play, one that would fit well in a village: teacher, police officer, nurse, grocer, student, etc. We then explained the scenario from the lesson, in which a village ends up in the path of a hurricane, leaving the whole place a mess. The children, in their different roles, had to come together and consult on what measures they should take to deal with the crisis and help life return to normal. As you can guess, there was delightful chaos as the children pantomimed getting blown across the room by the hurricane. With some difficulty, we managed to steer them back towards the point, asking them what problems needed taking care of in the village. At first, things seemed dire. No food! Thousands of bodies littering the streets! Zombie disease everywhere! But as we calmed down from the adrenaline rush and started to consult in earnest, we realized that, hey, the grocery store still had food, and the grocer was willing to give it away to help with the disaster relief. The nurse and doctor organized volunteers to bring injured villagers to the hospital, and the police helped to maintain calm.

Overall, it was a fun class, but a crazy one. The huge disparity in ages accentuated this, as usual. The good news is that we’ve done enough outreach to begin a new class for younger children further down the street, which, if all goes as expected, will be starting in June.