Issue 85: What am I to do with them?

Having posted lots of ideas on how to get the attention of a class full of children, I found myself facing a small horde who were just so, so NOT ready to learn.

They argued, they were calling out, they complained about each other, they talked, they twiddled their hair, they tootled their recorders, they fidgeted, they played with bits of paper and blu-tac – just a nightmare. (I was SO glad I was not being observed! I was VERY glad that the students were busy elsewhere!).

In short, they were driving me to madness and despair!

I get this class straight after PE, for the last lesson of the day. I wonder if that has anything to do with it? They arrive hot and bothered, in their PE kit, desperate for a drink “Miss, I’m dehydrated” (I never even KNEW that word at their age!). Seriously, herding cats, stuffing octopi into plastic bags, lion-taming, catching mice – these are the phrases that pop into my mind as I watch this shambolic array tumble into the class and ricochet off the furniture.

I have still not found the best way to start the lesson. Or continue the lesson. Or end the lesson. There WILL be a way! I just have to find it. It is clear that they are too wound up and on-the-go after PE to be ready to settle to in to my music lesson.

This time, I thought I would try catching their attention by singing straight away. We have been learning a round, which they enjoy, and we managed to sing it in three parts. There were complaints “Miss, Miss, they’re singing too loud and we can’t hear ourselves”. I persuaded them to use proper singing voices instead of shouty voices and the quality of singing and listening improved. I ended this part of the lesson before they began to get bored, and moved on to recorders.

For a class which is so fidgety, and with such a short attention span, they are incredibly good at “Don’t play this one back”. So I started with this; the  concentration and silence was very encouraging – but only lasted the duration of the activity. Once we were on to playing and reading music, “poof” and the brain cells were disassociating from the children like dandelion seeds floating away in a breeze.

Realising that I had probably achieved all that I was going to achieve, I collected up the recorders and we sat in a ring on the carpet and played focus games; copying finger plays, making hand shapes, sitting like rocks for ten seconds, anything that required them to pay attention to me and follow what I was doing. At least they were unable to tootle, and the lesson could finish in a positive mood!


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