I’m not exactly a huge fan of classroom observations. Maybe this is because it’s my first year of teaching and I’m insecure in my ability to do a good job. Perhaps I suffer from an intense desire not to disappoint; or maybe I am a little worried that the ‘controlled chaos’ of my class will not translate well to the observer.
It doesn’t matter why, the point is–I don’t enjoy having other people in my classroom.
Regardless of my dislike of said observations I seem to have some random person in my classroom just about every other week. Sometimes these observers come disguised as close friends, sometimes as foreign missionaries and sometimes as principles–but I see through their disguises and am usually internally dying from performance anxiety that I hide behind a big smile and bright colored clothing.
Natalie is 7 and has one big sister. She is half Thai/half German. Her favorite color is green, favorite animals are cats, she likes eating carrots and making art.
When I interviewed her for this post and asked her how she is, her response was “scared.”
She is also a fan of sarcasm and hugs.
Every morning at the beginning of class I teach a bit about the character of God and then lead my kids into prayer time.
This particular morning I had a guest ‘helper’ [observer] who has been part of IHOP, has lived in Thailand for some time now, speaks Thai more fluently than I and is hoping to open up a School of Promise somewhere in the South. I hadn’t ever met this woman before aside from friendly hello’s here and there, but welcomed her into my classroom and tried to pretend that I wasn’t nervous as all get up.
I taught whatever Bible lesson it was that day and then transitioned into prayer time. I always ask the students what they want to pray for and get a variety of answers ranging from:
Ok, yep. Yes, I will pray for all those things.
And then, every morning I explain that Miss Samara is going to pray out loud in English, but that my students can pray in their heart, in their heads or with their words and that they can pray in English or Thai or a tribal language if they are more comfortable with that.
Same routine, everyday.
This day, sweet Base (pictured below) asked if he could pray in Chinese. Everyone had a good laugh about that and I told him, yes, of course. If you speak Chinese, please pray in Chinese because God understands Chinese.
We all giggled together about Base being able to pray in Chinese and I began to start praying when Natalie raised her hand.
Miss Samara: “Yes, Natalie?”
Natalie [in thai]: “Can we pray in the language of dogs?”
Miss Samara: pause. look at observer. pause. “If you understand the language of dogs, I’m sure God will understand it as well.”
And then I start praying.
Holy Spirit, I welcome Your presence into my classroom… random barking… pause. more barking… open my eyes.
Natalie is sitting in her seat barking. Loudly.
I think, ok. Play it cool. No big deal. Keep praying.
God, I thank you for this day, I thank you for this opportunity to… louder barking. open my eyes… look at person observing my class… more students barking. pretend this isn’t happening… keep praying…
Um, You’re so good God… still more barking. high pitched barking. all the students are laughing. Miss Samara starts laughing. pull it together…
Well God, I’m pretty sure you understand Dog Language, so well…uh… ha… Amen.
I was pretty much at a loss as to how to move on from there, or how to explain to this lady that normally my students pray quietly and in human languages–so, I just pretended it didn’t happen at all.
Prayer time was toootally normal.
High pitched barking? What?
Lets learn the alphabet. Big Smile.
Until the end of the first term dog language was brought up every class as a possibility when talking to God and for at least a good month Natalie barked the entire time I prayed. Honestly, I don’t know why she stopped as I never squelched her freedom of expression.
But there you have it.
Just another day in Miss Samara’s English class. With an observer.