The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Sunday, May 9, 2010]


One of my students warmed my little heart today in class.

Oh, I'll just talk about the day--I'm kind of bored. :) First, I had a rather large class today. All seven of my "regulars" were there, plus somebody's cousin (who happened to be a well-behaved boy, whew). I separated my two behavior problems, and although I did have to say their names and give them the look a few times, in general everyone was very good today! Pleading with the the Lord this morning must have helped.

When Laynie left the room at the beginning of class to get scriptures for some of the boys, I had the thought that I should share with them my struggles with teaching in ASL and English at the same time. I explained that I have to remember the content/flow of the lesson, how to say it in English, and how to say it in ASL. But I can't seem to do more than three things at once. If I add in thinking about dealing with disrespectful behavior, something ends up getting dropped, and that something is ASL. I used the ASL listing on the hand technique to illustrate this. :) They seemed to understand. Then I explained that for Sister Fife, sitting here when I'm just speaking English is like if they were sitting in a class where everyone was using Chinese. It would be pretty boring and frustrating. I asked if they would try to behave appropriately, so that I could speak and sign at the same time, and they agreed to do so. I think they might have felt a bit of empathy for Laynie. Don't get me wrong, they haven't been horrible lately, but two of the boys have been very irreverent in their attitude. Light-minded, you might say. There's a perfect ASL sign for it, which looks like "silly" but with two hands and a specific facial expression--no perfect English translation though. It's been hard to feel the spirit when they behave that way.

Today we were learning about Joseph in Egypt: his experiences in Potiphar's home, the dream interpretations in the prison, the dream interpretations for Pharaoh, and how he became the second most powerful man in Egypt. The lesson ended with the famine, which extended far and wide... even to Canaan. Four or five kids gasped, realizing that Joseph's brothers would have to come to Joseph for food. Bless their hearts, they remembered where the family lived and made the connection!

When we got the "be done now" knock, one of the boys who often causes problems said quite sincerely, "No!! I wish we could stay here forever!" That was the heart-warming part. But then he continued, "I don't wanna go in there." There meaning sharing time.

If I could just figure out how to get them engaged in sharing/singing time... Funny, they can attend to instruction well in class, but they "can't" in sharing time. They sing with me in class, but they don't in singing time. (When I say they, I don't mean all of them.)

Every week in class, we sing the songs with the names of all the books in the Old Testament and New Testament. In February, I started singing these two songs to them every week. I explained that this was how I find verses so quickly in the scriptures--I sing part of the song in my head and know where the book will be that I am looking for. Every week I invited them to sing with me if they would like (while reading the table of contents--they've always had the words in front of them), but they hung me out to dry for at least six or seven weeks.

Then one day, every kid sang along! Well, all except one--but he vocalized. He has a tough time learning. Anyway, they've been joining me, singing these songs enthusiastically for the past month or so. Last week, they began asking me to sing the Book of Mormon song, too. They're disappointed that there is no song for the Pearl of Great Price. And I showed them how to use the text features--the chapters are right at the top of the page, and they're in numerical order! You'd think that would be obvious, but kids do need to be shown these things. When they use the scriptures in sharing time and the teacher starts to give them a page number, my kids will say, "Wait, which chapter?" Yeah, they're awesome.

Except when they're completely disrespectful to all of the teachers in sharing time. Sigh. Those kids who sing the books of the scriptures songs? You would see them picking their cuticles (or other body parts) during singing time. Total ennui. One very bright boy will sometimes sing and other times will look me in the eye and swear that he does not know one word to any of the songs. When I encourage him to try, he grunts loudly to the rhythm of the song. Across the room, his older brother laughs, and so does his older brother's teacher. It's like something you'd see on those Mormon movies, like Singles Ward or The RM. I could write one called Senior Primary.

But let's get back to the point... They were so good during class today. I was able to teach with the spirit, and I felt wonderful about it. They are learning concepts and skills, which makes me very happy. Sure, they're a mess during sharing time, but less of a mess than before. They no longer yell out disrespectful comments or poke each other. I have downgraded their insanity level in sharing time from "nightmare" to "kind of scary dream." Let's hear it for progress.


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