I’ve been noticing some things about my children. For one, they’ve certainly aged over the two week winter break. It’s bittersweet. I don’t want them to grow up! I was skimming through some pictures I have of them from the beginning of the year and the ones from now, and the changes may not be noticeable to someone who doesn’t know them, but to me? Wow! They’re losing their baby fat, becoming more like little adults…It is strange to watch them grow up. During lunch the other day, some of the “big kids” came over to say hi to their brothers/sisters and some of the teachers. They looked so grownup even though they were probably only ten years old at most. A bunch of them hugged one of our English teachers because they had had her just three years ago. Then I started thinking about my little ones and how much they are going to change in just a couple of years. I confess, I did get a little teary eyed.
I’ve also noticed that some of them are really starting to understand more. They may have forgotten some vocabulary over winter break, but, in general, they are starting to understand more of what I am saying. For example, the other day we were playing Pictionary with the SmartBoard to review our animals. Whoever guessed the animal got to come to the board to draw. One of my children had already had his turn at the board, so I looked at him and said (with gestures as well) that he had already gone so if he could pick someone else to go instead it would be really nice. At first I didn’t know if he had understood because some of the other students had distracted me, but less than a minute later I felt a tug at my sleeve. He told me to, “Come,” and then proceeded to whisper into my ear the name of the child that he had picked to go instead of him! I was so proud of him. Not only did he understand, but he also was not selfish about keeping his turn.
As much as some of these children can drive me crazy, they also melt my heart everyday. The other day, when it was time to go home, the children would not let me leave. The circled around me, each one grabbing onto and hugging a different part of me. “Teacher, no goodbye!” Then one of my little cherub faces held my hand an wouldn’t let go until he was distracted. This has been happening a lot more lately. I certainly don’t mind it. It makes my day for sure. If there is one thing that I love about teaching in Turkey, it’s that unlike in the States, the children are allowed to hug and kiss you and you can reciprocate the actions as well. No one will call you out for it saying that you shouldn’t do that. In fact, it’s encouraged. Love, love, love and more love.
Speaking of love and noticing, I’ve found my nurturing personality to have really come in handy. My one student, who had been transferred from another school because his behavior was so bad and violent and been making improvements; well, at least he has in my classes. I decided that when he came, what he did not need was another person yelling at him. He needed and needs someone to give him a little extra attention and love. I can be firm with him, but I will not yell at him because I honestly believe that’s the only way he has ever heard his name. He’s obviously a hyperactive child who needs a different kind of care than the other children. This is something that the other Turkish teachers do not seem to realize. I constantly hear him getting yelled at or I see him sitting in the hall while the other children are playing in the play room. Now, yes, sometimes his actions do necessitate a consequence, but I also have noticed that a lot of the time he is unfairly blamed for things or they yell at him because even though there are other children out of their seats, he’s the problem child so they’ll automatically yell at him. I’ve seen this happen in my own class (the assistant teachers are sometimes in our classes during our lessons). I made sure at the end of that lesson to point out to the teacher that he had been good and that there was no need for punishment of any kind. It may take more than once, but eventually, he’ll listen to me. He’s no longer violent in my classes and, in fact, has started to randomly hug me. I can tell it’s not something that he is used to doing because of the way he does it, but it’s a start. Sometimes, in order to do his work, he also needs a little push. I’ll sit down next to him and start working on the project with him or I’ll tell him what needs to be done. More often than not, he’ll end up doing the work. He just needs some extra motivation.