Friday, March 11, 2011

My pedagogy leaves no stone unturned.

In aftercare today we split the kids up into two groups. Friday is baking day, and it can get hectic trying to keep the attention of a dozen kids, ages 4 through 10. On the advice of our principal, we divided the students into the younger group (4-6 year olds) and older group (8-10), taking the first group on a walk somewhere while the older children prepared the food. Then we'd do the old switcheroo to allow the younger kids time to actually bake whatever we were making (M&M cookies today), and I'd take the older group on a similar outing. So I took all the young'uns outside to start.

"Ok kids gather round."

The kids milled about the schoolyard.

"Seriously kids get over here."

They formed as good a semi-circle as 5 year olds are capable of.

"What are we doing Mr. McLean?" asked the youngest girl.

"Well, I'll tell you...we're going to the beach!"

The crowd erupted in a chorus of "yays".

"What are we going to do there?"

"Something very important." Shit. What are they actually going to do there? Time to make something up.

"Now pay close attention. You each have to collect three different rocks...and it's important that they're all really different from each other."

"YAY!!!" They all jumped up and down around me.

Phew. Off we went to the beach, not a minute away.

We headed down, and I gave them a specific timeline for the special rocks they were to collect. They had ten minutes to find the differentest rocks they could. Back and forth they scurried, looking for a rock that somehow did not resemble the previous one they found. When we got to the limit of the beach, I asked the kids to show me what they had. Most had 5 or 6.

"Guys, these are some of the most amazing rocks I've ever seen! Unfortunately, you can only take 3. Sorry, them's the rules. So make sure that by the time we get back to the school, you toss the ones that don't make the cut. I'll be checking!"

We walked back slowly, with the sun behind us. I watched the kids stare at the rocks in their hands and try to figure out which ones were more different than others. Meanwhile, the girls tried to walk as close to the waves as possible without getting wet, shrieking and running away when it got close.

It turns out that spending a beautiful afternoon getting paid to walk along the beach, with kids who are convinced that you have some important plan for them, is not a bad way to pass the time in the Caribbean.


  1. Those kids... for a second I thought you were leading up to "and then Ben through his extra two rocks at Charlie's head." But your ending was much nicer than that.

  2. This reminds me of the "quiet game" that I used to play with the kids in Scotland.

  3. You left out important details! Did anyone find cool stuff? Do you get agates over there? Did kids bring you non-rocks? E.g. sea glass and shells and things?

  4. The 7 year olds don't exist. Or else they don't look like 7- year olds.

    What's the quiet game? I need to know this game, for my own teacherly purposes.

    No, they pretty much all found regular rocks, and were super excited to show them to their parents. We saw no agates, but one of them found a rock shaped like a heart. He's from Venezuela, and when he saw his mom, he said: "Mama, mira, un corazone!" (or something like that)

  5. The Quiet Game only works for the very young. But typically, when I had a massive headache and couldn't take it anymore, I would tell the kids some really involved story about something evil, and then tell them that if we were going to go on a walk past evil creature's habitat we were going to have to be very quiet. Then I would take them on a 15 walk somewhere.
    I also used to bring up staring contests a lot. Because for some reason when you pair the kids up for staring contests they stopped talking (surely mustering all concentration into the task at hand). Then if you did it tournament style all the kids would be quiet watching the other kids staring at each other.