Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Shared Primary Class

          As I have mentioned in previous posts, my first calling in this ward was with teaching the sunbeams.  I have never seen a physical attendance roll in the entire time I've been here, but I believe there were four sunbeams in total.  I think the most I ever had in my class at one time was three.

           My first experience in that class was actually a visitor named Dylan.  I live in an area where there are many members who are related to one another.  I think Dylan was a nephew of the former sunbeam teacher who had developed a comfort zone with teaching sunbeams. She seemed to hover just a bit to make sure I was doing the calling justice.  She had been newly called to Young Women's.  I had heard her give a talk just the week before and thought it was an awesome calling for the young women to have her on board.

          Dylan doesn't come every Sunday.  But he's been there enough that it seems like his name would have been added to the roll - but I don't know.  The most I ever had in class at one time was three.  After Skylar and his mom had moved out of the ward, it was mostly Emily by herself - which did not thrill her.  She didn't know me.  It was scary for her to be in the room with me.  And she cried for about a month before she decided to become a horse (see here)

          The following year I had her cousin, Hayden Braun, who was also not thrilled with the idea of being left alone with this stranger - though he seemed to come around a lot faster than Emily had.   For about a month his dad (who had actually called me to the position) sat with Hayden while I gave the lesson.  Bro. Braun had somehow felt impressed by my teaching methods.

          In this post I explained how I came to transition from Sunbeams to Valiants.  It is the larger of the two classes - with at least eleven children - though the most that have come (since I have been teaching) is eight.  Danny has returned to teach the class.  She comes to church for just one hour to teach.  I try my best to discipline Helen and Thomas.

          Both of them have to have something in their hand to wiggle, to rip, to play with, to destroy . . . Helen actually absorbs everything being said.  It amazes me that she actually knows the answers - or most of them anyway.  Thomas on the other hand seems focused on anything NOT related to the lesson - unless he happens to wearing his glasses - which unfortunately has not been every week. Shen he has his glasses on, it almost seems like he is a different child.

          I actually described Thomas in this post  though I hadn't shared his name. There have been a number of times I have said to Roland:  "Please explain something to me as though you were explaining to Thomas Jay." 

            I think of the eleven class members, I have already mentioned five of them in one post or another - I suppose because Jenna had been in the same primary class with many of them. Thomas had been in the CTR class when Jenna started attending Young Women's and did not start the Valiant class until just this year.

          When I was teaching, I asked Roland to please sit with my class - particularly Thomas.  Roland often has a way of teaching children and keeping them in line.  I figured that since he had already made a connection with Thomas that Thomas would listen to him.   Actually, Thomas had somehow made a connection with me while I was still teaching Sunbeams and he was a CTR.  It was with his extended family where Jenna, Roland and I had Thanksgiving in 2016.

           It had been during the hour that both primary classes meet in one room for singing time and sharing time. Thomas would choose to sit next to me when I was teaching Hayden - or perhaps it wasn't always by choice.  Often there are just certain individuals who cannot sit together.  The primary leaders didn't like Thomas to sit with his sibs or cousins.  As I mentioned, Thomas feels the need to keep his hands busy - even if it is to taunt others.

           For the most part the class members are eager to participate: read scriptures, say prayers, and so forth.  Helen and Thomas have both expressed their lack of desire to read - which is okay.  I'm not going to make anyone read if they don't want to.  I feel more like a referee than a teacher.  Especially with Danny returning to her position. 

          Danny and I have two totally different teaching methods.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I think of it as an early introduction to diversity. Whatever works, right?  Danny sets up the chairs against the wall in a straight line putting a great distance between herself and the students.  I put the group in a circle.  I have allowed for more reading thus far.  Danny incorporates more videos and games.  We both ask tons of questions.

           Our largest class (well, since I have been a part of it) was yesterday.  The only two missing were Callie (who has been active for the most part during Achievement nights, but I think I have only seen her attend Sunday meetings four times since we moved to Myrtle Creek) and Krystal, (here) who has been coming with her grandma until her grandma went out of town.  I had called last night to see if we could pick her up this morning.  I never heard back from the family.  We haven't had any luck getting a hold of them on Sunday.

           Two of our class members will start young women's this year.  Callie and Lisa.  Lisa is Thomas and Emily's oldest sister.  She is really smart in math.  Though she's still in elementary school, Jenna says she has seen Lisa at her middle  school as she Lisa takes math on a level higher than her elementary school. Callie is also attending  Coffenberry Middle School but Jenna says they don't interact with one another.

           In the past Lisa had been invited to sit with Emily during singing time as Emily when Emily was having a hard time making the transition from nursery to sunbeams.  And Ann was allowed to sit with Hayden.  Ann and Lisa are both focused enough to comfort their sibs while still paying attention to their leaders. 

           Christopher actually does do better with the CTR class than he did in sunbeams.  Helen has tried to "mother" him the way Lisa and Ann had done with their sibs.  But Helen is HORRIBLE.  Christopher does much better without her.  Both the CTR instructor and I have requested to keep Helen and Christopher separate - thus separating Lisa from Emily and Ann from Hayden so that we're not playing favorites.

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