Walking into a classroom of 8 year olds can be intimidating. Even though they’re little and still figuring out how to add fingers to toes, when you confront them as a group – it is eat or be eaten.
So when I head to the front of the room to take over what is to be the new addition to my teaching schedule, I know I have to lay down the law. Quickly and forcefully.
A word of advice to you all. Never underestimate the cacophony and resulting confusion of 20 eight year olds each jumping out of their chairs, practically dislocating their shoulders with hands waving in the air making squealing noises and asking 50 different questions with a level of urgency you would normally hear in only in the most dire of emergencies.
‘Teacher! Can I go to the bathroom?’ from the boy in the far left hand corner, pushing his floppy brown hair out of his eyes and wriggling in discomfort.
‘Miss Sara!!! How do I spell cat!!!!’ Screams a sweet looking girl in the front row with a look of pure panic in her eyes.
‘Miss Miss! Look at my hair!!!’ a child who is a photocopy of the girl in little Miss Sunshine has inexplicably braided her braids together and possibly onto the chair.
Meanwhile Deema, with a ponytail and dark eyebrows, is throwing an eraser at skinny little Ahmad seated right in front of her who in turn turns to me and complains plaintively and loudly from the middle of the room.
Yasmine doesn’t have a pencil while three others are asking for paper and Feras, who for some reason insists on standing up each time he speaks, is reciting answers from his notebook. Meanwhile I am desperately licking my fingers and scrubbing at CAT which I have written on the board using permanent marker by accident.
It is 7:50 am.
Suddenly a loud clap from the back of the room and everyone is seated, still as statues. Mr Sean has made his presence known and Mr Sean, as the children have found, is not to be messed with.
Oh to command that level of respect from an eight year old. I never imagined I would want it so much.
‘You have five seconds to get everything you need from your bags and start answering the questions on the board.’
A silent flurry of movement as the children comply and I take a deep breath. This will constitute the beginning of my day, every day, for the next seven months.
Wish me luck!