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This week was definitely the most challenging week so far, but that was expected since the kids and English levels continued to grow smaller. We taught a small group of first graders who were many things: loving, cute, dramatic, violent, smart, and driven. However, despite the characters in our classroom, the biggest barrier was presented on the first day in complete surprise: the chalkboard didn’t erase. Because of this small mishap, our group was forced to improve and started the class in small groups.

In these groups, we did tons of repetition of basic vocabulary, such as shapes, colors, and animals. At points, we were even able to drive a little competition by giving stickers to those who could answer the most questions correctly and quickly. Unfortunately, everything wasn’t all smooth since there were fights, arguments, and even crying involved in these games. Since we were moving through classes so quickly, it’s a little difficult to remember that, along with the ages becoming younger, these children are less mature and have softer feelings, so they may not respond well to teasing or playful jabs from classmates.

The week continued fairly smoothly despite this dramatic change in teaching style, and we were able to sprinkle in interesting bits in which the kids were exposed to English in an entertaining setting. These intermissions served as great breaks from the EXTREMELY energetic students, and included watching Planet Earth videos and singing simple songs about animals and colors. As the end of the week creeped up, the farewell to these students was bittersweet. Although they had their moments of violence and destruction, they were caring and really driven to learn.

Personally, I grew close to one student who, on the first day, asked the homeroom teacher why she had to learn English and why we were even here. When she was given an unsatisfactory answer, she began to lose interest in the activities that we were participating in. I took this opportunity to extend extra attention to this student, continually talking to her about her interests and her background. We found common interests in food, specifically berry flavored milk (it’s so delicious omg don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!!). Through continued interaction and talks in the lunch room, she became one of the more active and engaged students in the classroom.

This experience exemplifies the issues that surround children in the classroom. Quite often, these students are not receiving the level of attention that would allow for a positive outlook on learning. Sometimes, a bit of playful interaction and help are what transform these children from unresponsive students to engaged learners. In the end, the language of love and care transcends above all.