Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shhh, I'm a Secret

Today I only got to spend a half a day in the classroom at the Deaf camp, because I had a pain management class in the morning. I was needing it pretty badly at that point, too, after yesterday. I had just as much fun in the 1st and 2nd grade room today, though. Last night I put together a script from everything they’d been working on.

Right before the teacher handed out the scripts, she told the kids I’d written it up for them and pointed to me, asking them who I was. The kids responded enthusiastically with my name or name sign…that is, kinda my name sign. The teacher turned to me with a puzzled look. “Your name sign is secret?” I laughed and showed her the real one--similar to the sign for “secret,” though I’d never noticed that before. My name is so short everyone just fingerspells it--this is the first time I’ve had people regularly use my name sign.

The teacher I’ve been working with was asked to teach here only the day before camp started--the one scheduled had something come up. This lady normally teaches older kids and has never taught drama before. She’s doing a great job and is great with the kids.

I got to try out teaching just a little today, too! Since I’ve had a little experience with drama (though not teaching it to kids), the teacher asked me to take the floor a little more today. It was so much fun but a challenge, too. There’s nothing that makes one feel as if she’s signing pig latin quite like trying to explain a complicated concept to kids who aren’t that interested in the first place. ;-)

Imagine trying to keep the attention of nine 1st and 2nd graders sitting in a circle. Most of them spend most of the time fiddling around and playing with a piece of paper or tag on their shirt or whatnot, right? but they can still listen to the teacher. Now picture the same circle of kids, but all of them are deaf. It’s the same situation, with one twist--the kids only know what the teacher is saying if they are actually looking at her. This is a real challenge for the kids that can pay attention better if they can move around and be active while they are learning.

I tried to think of some fun acting games we could play and have the kids “put on” the personalities of the characters from their skit, but we ran out of time to do much. I did have them think about how their character would walk (or swim--we’re doing “The Little Mermaid”) and practice that a bit. That was fun!

Another funny thing happened today. At one point the teacher put three bits of masking tape on the floor to help the young actors know where to stand. She was a bit puzzled, though, when instead of facing the audience, the kids stood stiffly and precisely facing odd random directions. She finally realized that instead of just standing on the tape marks, they’d lined their feet up exactly parallel to the direction the tape strip happened to be facing.

Tomorrow I’m moving to another classroom. It’s good to get a variety of experience, and seeing all the classrooms will help prepare me for voice acting the plays on Saturday. I’m gonna miss this class, though! I’m suddenly wondering if I’ll end up as a teacher’s aid at this school after I graduate. ;-)



Laury said...

What awesome experiences you're having, Amy! Woohoo! Enjoy your time, my friend!

Joanne Sher said...

What a NEAT experience, Amy! I can't EVEN imagine trying to keep the attention of that many of that age (that would be why I'm NOT a teacher LOL). Sounds like you are learning a LOT. I love that your sign name is similar to "secret." Cute. Hope you update tomorrow too - and glad you had your pain management class this morning.

Jules said...

And what a secret! I laughed and laughed as I read this: the kids standing funny on the tape, you trying to sign to kids who weren't that interested; your 'secret' name. So funny! I teach 0-2 year olds so I have some idea of 'crowd control' and how hard it is at time (making eye contact works well - but you have to get them to look at you first). Hang in there, girl, it sounds as if you're doing great. And who knows? Perhaps one day you could write a book about your experiences.