Apparently this is the week for finding out about my students' depressing past.
I had to give an acuity (standardized test) in math to a fourth grader. This particular kid has, up until this point, been a pain. He will always forget his recorder. He will hardly every participate, even when his friends around him are willingly participating and having fun. Once, when his class got in a ton of trouble for being so rude to each other, they were assigned to write some nice things about each other. His response was, "Do I have to do this? I didn't do anything wrong." I told him he had the choice of either following directions like everyone else or to receive a reminder (a file of poor behavior that parents have to sign). He just said, "Well, since I didn't do anything wrong, I guess I will have to take the reminder"!!!! Holy crap. He has guts. He got 12/25 questions correct on his math acuity test because he was just guessing answers. I find out the next day that he lived in a children's hospital out of town for about three of his 9 years of life. He has brain cancer and had radiation for a THIRD of his life. Poor guy. I kind of feel bad for feeling like he was just a pain all this time. Now, I have some sympathy.
Another student, a 5-year old. He has this habit of constantly talking, moving, fidgeting, and rocking back and forth. It is REALLY distracting and I feel like I am always on top of him and asking him to relax or stop talking. I also thought of this kid as being kind of annoying (naturally, right?). Well, after speaking with his teacher, I come to find out that for the first three years of his life, he lived in a Russian orphanage. No one really knows about his experience there, except that I don't think he learned to talk. He was adopted at 3 and moved to America. The poor kid has only been here for two years!
So anyway, students often come up to talk to me after music class. Especially the little ones, they just have so many things to tell me. Usually I can just tell that they need some attention. I often just say, "Would you like a hug?" They give me a big hug and then they leave. I know that we are both happy :-)
Today, my little Russian was asking me after class how he did. "Did I do good today, Ms. Thomas? I tried really hard not to talk when you were talking." "You sure did, _____. You have been doing such a good job". "But don't you think I did good when I was quiet and still when you were teaching us music?" "Of course, of course. Would you like a hug before you leave?" "Uhhh.... no thanks."