Sunday, 9 September 2012

Week one...

Chilling in bed with fairy stories... i agree it is not forty shades of gray... it is BETTER!!!!
(Not that i would know, seriously)

i sort of like taking self portriats... one day i imagine it will become some sort of legacy
for the kids...do you like the tiger balm in the corner of the photo... tiger balm rocks!
Week on is over. how strange life is. i was lying here thinking about this late autumn heatwave and it began raining. The cool breeze came through the windows and i thought of harapan. one year ago i had just returned from attempting to save a rainforest. I was in love with everyone there, swiming in water lilly filled lakes, surrounded by dragonflies and swallows as they dipped their beaks in the water to scoop out the pond skaters. At night it would rain and in the day time, we would walk from hut to office, writing press releases and translating things. i wanted to go back to harapan and asked the universe to make it possible and so i did. I went back and met everyone there again. It is strange to say but in my ten years in the RSPB, as a conservationist, being in Harapan was probably the most intense meaningful experience i had there. Barring my stays on Rathlin Island, nothing else came close. OK that trip down Lower Lough Erne to see the Sandwich terns on Gravel Ridge Island. OK and then up Aghatirourke. OK, then there was Lough Foyle... i admit i have had a few amazing moments...

I made a film.

Then a year later i am teacher. What is being Steiner teacher like? i am desperately trying not to get too involved in the job. I am trying to pace myself, rest a day, like i was told, and to take things in small doses. But like i was saying to a friend today, it has been incredibly nourishing and very enriching. I have come to understand that being a teacher is not like being a parent. This may be obvious to some people, but i learnt very quickly that the children actually want to be taught. They don't want to be fobbed off with a That's nice dear. Nope. They want to be shown how to do stuff properly.

What we do in Steiner education is very much about the education of the will. We do this through feeling so that the will can inform thinking. Often we think this is the other way round. We think we need to know something first before we do it. Nope. If you really think about it, you need to DO something before you know it. In fact it will be much faster if you do it. It is nicely summed up in the paradox of cookery programmes. Watching a cookery programme will not make you a better cook. You need to cook to be a better cook.

And it is education of the will, which needs to be inspired and nourished, through stories and feeding the fantasy life of the child that gets the will going. For instance, if you tell a child to stay still this will have little effect. When it has no effect, you then say, i will punish you if you dont stay still. It is much better to say, imagine i am a wizard and i have turned you all to stone. You have to stay very still and be very quiet and only when i wave my wand will you be able to move. This really works wonders. i don't know how long this will work for, but the kids have a great time being still. To get them to lift their knees high and keep their backs straight, you say, we are soldiers, marching. Or you say, you must listen very hard, remember the story about such and such who listened... they managed to...

This week i will be putting in place sewing, music, gardening and painting. Knitting will be after sewing. I will also be teaching them finger knitting. Form drawing will continue daily along side literacy. They will learn C, F, W and H, through the Fisherman and his Wife. They will also learn form drawing through this.

By the end of the week the children will hopefully know these letters.

Lesson plans are written daily, although a rough structure of the week is done today. This is because after class, i sit down and write a short observation on each child, and then i review how the lessons went. Then i write down the activities for the following day based on the way the lesson went.

Valuable lesson of the week for me: children have attention spans of twenty minutes. In and out breaths. Twenty minutes of in and twenty minutes of out. Anything else is pushing it. You sort of lose them if you don't keep the rhythm going.

There was a breakthrough moment when one of the kids said to me, Stephanie, yes i said, as we struggled through a complicated form, This is fun.

Yep, i looked forward to moments of grace like that. I think i have never had to work so hard with the angels before.

Ah yes, and i wrote a fairy story for them last week, in installments, to teach them form drawing. On the last day i thought, oh no, this is a very boys oriented story with no girls in it, so i turned the stone which was found in the forest to an elf princess, who had six sisters she had to be reunited with and they were the rainbow. This fortunately worked very well and the children were very satisfied with the story. And i was able to teach the form drawing, the highly complicated one using the seven sisters and the gnome doing a dance... that all worked out very well i thought!

Right i have at least two weeks of laundry to do. I have promised myself that i would get all the housework down before i started lesson prep for tomorrow, having done lesson prep for the week already. Oh and i caved in and bought and dust buster for the blackboard. Goodbye smudges and dusty classroom!!!

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