Friday, 18 November 2011

D'accord dansons! (Okay let's dance)

So it's been a busy week and a cold week! Its also been very misty with the mist Pt ting on the school grounds early doors and late evening prompting Michelle and I to note the striking resemblance school can bear to sleepy hollow.

Has anyone checked the timetable to see if the headless horseman rides tonight...?!

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It was also a BUSY week which saw us holding blind English tests (sorry kids) plus having to change my lesson plans at the last minute for the entire month plus the suggestion I choreograph a dance for the school Christmas show which then became '2' dances for the Christmas show (known as a spectacle here) which then became 'Karen my class have to do a song in the Christmas spectacle can you please help with the choreography also' so all in all I suddenly found myself planning an extra 6 hours of dance lessons a week on top of the 2 I already teach, plus choreographing no less than 6 dance routines! This was just on Monday night.

It's okay I like these little challenges and it also meant whilst skimming through my music collection I discovered some hidden gems I never knew I had! So when I was supposed to be choreographing these extra routines I mostly found myself having a bit of a disco in my dance studio to the tunes I kept finding I had forgotten About. Proper trip back to the 80's with a school disco for 1.

Actually this is also good distraction as I'm having a particularly hard time at the moment missing my cats, there's a lot of cats out here and it's really catching up with me at the minute. I'd love to get my own but I can't guarantee anything right now so it wouldn't be fair to take a cat in sadly (and sensibly, oh I'm such a grown up; sometimes) meanwhile in the last week I made 2 new feline friends:

Meet Diego

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The friendliest puss ever who lives by the school and I found him in the playground. When he'd finished hurling himself round my ankles with a particularly deep and lovely 'wooooow' sound, I advised him he may want to clear off before playtime!

Then there's this beauty who lives in my village. This cat who looks like Fizzgig from the dark crystal is indeed a beautiful piece of fluff who will happily spend hours winding round your legs for some spoiling.

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However I do miss having my own cat and even though it's been 2 years without my boys now it doesn't mean it hurts any less to not have them in my life anymore. It's sad they were my boys for 10 years and I adored them. I am fully aware I have missed out on the last 2 years of their life (not for want of trying though) and at 12 years old next May they aren't getting any younger and I'm desperate to know how they are. Here's hoping one day I'll hear something.

Anywho back to school and dance lessons.

Often the children in the dance workshops don't particularly want to dance so getting them to focus let alone learn anything routine wise can feel a near impossible task somedays, so I was now faced with a class of up to 22 children ... which also included a lot of boys who mostly would just like to play football every sports lesson. So as plans had to change literally overnight and with no time to burn anything onto CD (as no time to go and buy blank CDs) I knew my iPad wouldn't cut it volume wise so I dove into my sparse CD collection with everything crossed (who has CDs now anyway, downloading saw to the end of that). Armed only with lady gaga, britney spears and glee vol. 1 (don't judge me) I felt like a lamb heading to the slaughter.

Both classes loved it!

Lady Gaga is actually pretty child friendly, who knew! Her lyrics are mostly nonsensical and nothing as blatant as Katie Perry and her "i want to see your peacock cock cock cock" (even my big bro things she should be shot for that and had to heavily edit the album accordingly when my little niece asked for it...) so I wasn't feeling too disturbed when all the little girls started singing along to poker face. Success indeed.

Mind you I kind of wish I could say I had the same level of calm in my drama class. This week when I asked the boys and girls to come up with a short play each based around being in a shopping Market and to use as much English dialogue as possible (I was on hand to consult and dictionaries were used where necessary). As is usual the girls poured through the dictionaries, asked me for help on words they were stuck on and quietly devised their little scenario in the corner. The boys you could tell were going to sandwich an armed robbery in their play somewhere.

So when it came time to view these short pieces imagine my shock when even the girls play involved someone being tazered and as for the boys, well, I could have paused the scene at any moment and it would have looked like a still from the primary school version of Reservoir Dogs.

I understood the girls little play, normal day in the shop, one of the normally sweetest girls of cycle 3 steals something, police get called, she bashes shopkeeper over the head (really???) ends up tazered by the police (and to think at one point in our lives Tom and Jerry were shouldering the blame for this) the end.

The boys however, it, had to be witnessed to be believed, or rather - not understood. I got that it was a shop and someone bought a jacket, but from then on it descended into such an imaginary bloodbath I almost felt the need to get imaginary cloths to wipe up all the imaginary blood and guts that was being spilled all over the Walls (which incidentally were real and luckily imaginary bullet proof and wipe clean)

Of course the boys were indestructible I mean these kids had an arson of everything from glocks to machine guns in their minds with which they were massacring each other at point blank range before suddenly whipping out tazers (whats with the tazers what are these kids watching???) even the 2 boys that had their throats slit were able to continue (yep you read that right; throat slitting) all I know is no one seemed to die (they kept reincarnating it seemed) it reminded me very much of an old Alan Ahlberg poem about a primary school production of Robin Hood, my mum, most teachers and primary school children from the 80's will know what I'm on about, the book was called 'please sir' and contained poems such as 'there's a dog in the playground' anyway once again I digress.

I called time on the boys play in the end as let's face it, like a game with a cheat code that means you have unlimited life ups ...it's gotta end somewhere else it just gets boring and my poor morals were shaken and I was also thankful for the fact I've not had a tv with channels since June of this year so have obviously been spared the horrors the rest of this world are clearly watching (like X Factor...)

Its strange the children have been pretty fractious this week and for the first time since I started teaching I lost my rag. I don't like shouting, I kind of feel if you are shouting you have lost. But I'd tried everything from turning the lights out, to whispering, to adding time on post lesson to the naughty corner, to hands on head, to notes to the parents... But there is one class that just weren't having any of it this one day.

I had already had to raise my voice once (and little did I know it was actually loud enough that the headmistress who was just down the corridor with one of the pupils mums could hear me...) so the class had calmed down suitably and I thought it was safe to move on and give them something a bit more active to do. Could not have been more wrong.

I was teaching conjunctives such as 'on' and 'under' so as they weren't getting it visually and they were getting restless I thought it was time to put words into actions.

"okay class, UNDER your desks"

Silence

'yes really, tout le classe, everyone under your desks'

One child tentatively slid off their chair and looked at me suspiciously waiting for the lecture.

"oui, comme ça"

Pointing at the bewildered child peaking at me from this usually 'forbidden place' I gave them permission to follow suite and in disbelief one by one they slid under their desks, giggling and possibly thinking I'd gone slightly mad.

"okay class ON your chairs"

They returned to their chairs, the noise levels slowly creeping up and up and UP reaching a crescendo just as I repeated the command

"now UNDER your desks"

At this point it all went horribly wrong and a couple of the children actually climbed ON to their desks.

That was enough, I'd had enough, I promptly slapped my hand down on the desk and above the shouting yelled for them to stop and gave them a lecture on their unacceptable behaviour.

So now picture the scene

I'm mid yell, I have one hand attached to the desk, some of the class are under their tables, some are sat on their chairs and some are ON their desks...

Enter the head mistress.

Christian said when the headmistress turned round to him later that day and said she had walked into my class to find the kids on and under their desks Christian said he had to try not to laugh as he said "oh she was probably teaching prepositions".

Its okay apparently Mishy has used this approach also. Its official they probably now think the entire English department is insane.

Which would be right.

Probably why us living together works so well; thats a whole lot of craziness under one roof.

Its ahrd to stay mad with them though, there's never a dull moment working with children, a short while back for art Mishy covered drawing tapestries thus presenting the class with the opportunity to let their childish imaginations run wild in fantasy land and draw castles and unicorns and dragons and knights in shining armour. Which one boy promptly did. A knight in shining armour complete with flowing cape... and mini electric fan built in to keep the cape constantly flowing. When Mishy pointed out that they didn't have electrical equipment in those days the boy promptly drew a potted plant over the top of the fan and proudly announced that 'he'd disguised it'

This was mild though compared to the boy who was guarding his castle against...women! (hmmmmm I see problems when he's older) all round the base of the castle were dead and dying women, one woman was hanging from the castle walls as a warning to other women and on the battlements was a knight who was seated....on the toilet. Below the toilet was falling debris so to show an interest and to find something relatively 'ok' with the picture, Michelle asked if those were bombs? To which the boy promptly replied

"no it's poo"

Still desperate to find some good in the picture Michelle spotted that the boy had drawn a woman at the foot of the castle directly underneath the knight on the crapper and she was smiling. Pointing to it Michelle told me she said to him "well what about this woman? she's smiling she looks pretty!" to which he replied

"that's because she hasn't looked up yet"

Got to love them

So I have no idea what's in the air at the moment I was hoping it would freeze the kids into submission as it's so cold here right now but apparently not! Maybe snow is due, I have been warned that just before snow the children get really fractious! Even one of my classes who are usually absolute angels I could have happily individually lynched the one afternoon.

It didn't get any better as the week went on Thursday was another challenging day with the children retaining their yampiness and ending in the dance workshop for which 2 of the children couldn't dance due to leg injuries (I don't know what they are doing but they are running around the playground ok....) one of the children decided to spend the entire workshop doing NOTHING but standing there glaring at me as they were only there because there parents said "sat I 'ave to do the dance" and another came to class with a nose bleed which just would not stop. I was meant to be starting their dance for the Christmas show on this night too! Only 3 weeks to teach them the routine and rehearse it with 2 children down, one who point blank didn't want to be there and one bleeder.. I'm not worried "a 5,6,7,8...."

so it is fair to say I was dreading Friday... On Fridays I have the youngest children in school in the afternoon. 21 fidgety end of week children, all ready for the weekend and 99% of whom speak little English. Dance and mime was on the agenda for their lesson. Mime??!! These little ones couldn't be silent if their lives depended on it! My confidence wasn't off to the best start Friday after Thursday's dance class and not wanting a repeat of this I headed into the class with some trepidation. However I was well prepared right down to the order of the music on the (by now) newly burnt CD specially made for this occasion.

Worries were totally unfounded, somehow I managed to do an entire 30 minutes of mime where the children said next to nothing! Mesmerised and following my every move we collected stars from the sky and bagged them up, we fought battles as pirates, did mirror work and acted out their entire day. I used classical music quietly in the background which also seemed to do the trick in keeping them calm (bit of Rhapsody in Blue on a friday afternoon is good for the nerves) and it was just the loveliest lesson ever! Not to also bear in mind these kids barely speak english yet mostly and so somehow i managed to explain the exercises and get them to do it! Lesson 101 in mime, you don't need words to tell a story, least of all when you all speak different languages but have to do the same thing.

We then moved on from mime to dance, fingers still firmly crossed and I did some country dancing with them and somehow successfully taught and completed the 'Virginia reel' with most of the children getting it, also this gave the children their new word for the week... Dosey doe. Apologies to the parents :) Im trying to do world themes with the dance lessons so it'll be line dancing next week, bangrha the week after... Etc etc. Hopefully it's as good an idea as it sounds but certainly a good start. They were all very excited when I told them it was a danse de la campagne (country dance) from England and one boy who had lived in England for a few years was able to put his hand up and proudly tell the rest of the class he had in fact learned that dance before when he attended school in the UK so brownie point for my britishness and authentic English stuff.

After 2 hours of this delight I wondered how the end of the day dance workshop would fair in comparison. With 3 weeks to the spectacle du Noel (Christmas show) it was time for the younger children to begun their routine. I chose Jingle Bell rock and waited for chaos to ensue. So I was delighted when not only did they all start singing along and knew it and LIKED it but they all listened intently and learned the moves I had set to the first verse really well. Result!!!

Work asides this week on Thursday the Paris massive all gathered together at Chez moi et Mishy who cooked a lovely stew (we have an agreement she cooks I clean!) in France you usually bring wine to the table but as no one had checked with anyone else what was what we ended up looking like total winos...

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Nothing compared to this guys shop in Auchan, let it never be said the French are alcoholics. After all alcoholics attend meetings.

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That was a lovely chilled evening, our new house is beautiful and we feel right at home. I have a feeling our landlords are new to this game though as every day they have bought us something new for the house, or done the gardening, or been and dusted. We got home Tuesday night to find the house felt warmer than normal. We found out why when we went into the dining room and realised the heat was rising up from the cave...

They had lit us a fire!

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We have decided we don't have landlords we have fairies. I'm sure Peeves is delighted.

Well fairies aside I still gave the house a good clean this evening as it's now the weekend and 1. I have the bloke coming to spend the weekend with me (it's been a month and now I get to see him this weekend and the next!) and 2. It's P-A-R-T-Y time! Housewarming this weekend so it's all fun after a challenging week, but being paid to spend the week pretending to dance in the snow, collect stars, do battle with pirates and play games really can't be all bad; I love my job!

On that note, I've earned my weekend

Bon weekend everyone make the most of it!

Karen xxx

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