Language School, week 4

Some good things to report this week after my tossing and turning last week. Had a great lesson with Middle Primary… I went in hard, making sure I kept things moving the whole time, transitioning slickly from one task to the next. I tackled an apparent attempt from Oscar to extract himself from the action for a period (which, as I pointed out to his teacher, he has done a number of times already, and it creates challenges when he needs to insert himself back into a piece that has been created without the input of his considerable musical skills). And Volodya seemed a bit calmer than he has done in previous weeks, able to stop and listen more often, and to be less (visibly) anxious about being heard.

I have decided to build beatboxing (Oscar’s forte) and dance (a great love of Volodya’s) into this project. We wrote a rap about travelling to and from school, and how the school day passes, and Oscar accompanied this to great effect. The rap is quite funny – it mentions ‘lining up’ so many times it is quite an insight into how dominant the whole notion of ‘lining up’ is for students at this school, and how much time they perceive is spent doing it. Their teacher and I were chuckling by its third mention.

I asked for individual students to dance in front of the class, to show what they could do. (I’d already got a sense that there were some keen dancers in the class). Those of us watching accompanied them with the traditional We will rock you rhythm, stomping on the floor then clapping on the third beat. Then, I asked both Oscar and Volodya if they knew any steps that would be easy enough for their classmates to do, and that they could explain slowly.

Volodya took this task on with great intent and seriousness. He concentrated incredibly hard to slow one of his dance steps down so that he could teach it to the others. And he painstakingly found the English he needed:

You just… turn your foot… a little bit! Just a little.

The teaching was particularly impressive as many students who arrive with well-developed routines or performance pieces (either dancing or drumming) frequently have difficulty altering the tempi within which they perform, or with slowing things down so that they can be shared by the whole class. I rewarded everyone with some feather-balancing work (which they absolutely love), and at this too, they all really shone. So… phew. I’m happy to report some improvements, on my part as well as theirs.

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