Thursday, September 19, 2013

Round Two with the Kindergarteners

First, if you need a laugh, go read this now. Warning: don't drink liquids while reading. Depends may be necessary. I needed tissues because I laughed until I cried. Definitely look at the pictures. There's no real reason for me to post this, other than that it's a convenient way for me to save the link for days when I really need a laugh. Also, I think I can see why I haven't managed to become a famous blogger with a legion of followers. My life isn't nearly interesting enough and I don't do nearly enough crazy things to write about. It would never occur to me to buy a giant bear head to put in my house. I do have a suit of armor, but there's no story behind it and nothing funny or crazy associated with it (though a friend wants to put LED lights that will come on randomly behind the visor).

In other news, I read a newspaper article this week that has given me a potential retirement strategy. The article was about a woman who had realized how much a particular choir teacher she had in school had influenced her life and sent her down the path she took, and she decided to look the teacher up and thank her. It turned out that the teacher was in poor health and developing dementia. She'd never married or had kids and lived alone. The woman started checking on her regularly and helping her with things, and then when she reached a point she couldn't live alone and had no relatives, this woman and her husband took the former teacher into their home, as though she was a family member.

It's looking increasingly unlikely that I will marry or have kids, so I think I need to start working now on my choir students to have someone to look after me in my old age. I wonder if I can insert subliminal messages into the music we play in class: "I love Miss Shanna. Miss Shanna will be the biggest influence on my life. I will owe a debt of gratitude to Miss Shanna that I should one day repay when she needs me."

Things actually went a lot better last night. I had two additional teen helpers, a girl who had this group for music and art camp in the summer, so they already know and love her, and a boy who will be solely dedicated to Wild Boy. Both of them were on the choir trip I chaperoned last year, so I know them pretty well. The boy has dealt with ADHD himself, so he knows the warning signs and coping mechanisms and has a lot of empathy. I think a lot of the problem is that when there's too much stimulation, like noise and chaos, it sends him spiraling out of control, which makes the other kids crazier, which makes him crazier. Just getting him momentarily out of the room into a quieter place so he can calm down helps keep things from getting crazy. And me not having to deal with him means I can control the rest of the class better, which makes it less noisy and chaotic, which makes him less likely to lose control. It also means that I'm not in an adversarial relationship with him. I had a big "aww" moment when he came to show me his drawing. One thing that also seems to work is having quiet activities, and I passed out paper and crayons and told them to draw something they wanted to praise God for. He really got into drawing, and he'd drawn his family -- plus his new teen helper buddy -- in their secret lair.  I also used the carrot approach. I had the parachute, and if they acted in a way that showed they could handle the parachute, we'd do a parachute game at the end of the session. I did have to explain that this was a toy parachute when one boy got excited about it being the thing you put on your back so you could jump out of an airplane. We got to make a thunderstorm with the parachute, which was lots of fun for everyone.

Now if I could just get them to actually sing, since this is supposed to be "choir" (though this choir program does encompass some music theory, a little theology, and music appreciation). There's one little girl who really sings earnestly, like she's trying to do it right, and there's one little boy who sings with great gusto at a level of about 11 (though not necessarily the same song the rest of us are singing). The rest just kind of mill around, maybe occasionally making a sound. I was teaching some voice technique, and we were singing the various vowel sounds. One kid put the "oo" and the "ee" together, back and forth, and I think I earned a lot of kindergarten street cred when I said that we weren't being Minions. There was a bit of impressed surprise that I knew what they were doing. Hmm, next week maybe we'll do a Minions vocal exercise.

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