Monday, June 1, 2015

My Teaching Gig

Naomi's play school has this Parent Involvement Activity program where students' parents (usually the mothers since dads are busy working) are encouraged to teach some activities to the kids for 30 mins at the school. The activities are up to the parents - they can be cooking, storytelling, crafting, cupcake decorating, etc.

Few weeks back, I was handed a form to fill if I were to participate at this activity. Initially I was hesitated whether I should take this opportunity up or not because one of my biggest fears in life is actually public speaking. If I were to teach the kids, that means I would have to speak in front of more than 15 kids and 5 adults/teachers. 20 people = public to me. I was nervous but couldn't stop thinking about this for days. As I felt that this teaching activity is an opportunity I should not miss; last week, I confirmed my participation to teach the kids with Naomi's principal.

After contemplating on some ideas of the activity that I wanted to teach to the kids, I finally chose the subject that I think I master best - making cookies. In particular, making dog cookies as I've done this more than five times by now and it's a fun activity for the kids because the cookies' shape is so cute and it mimics the animal that they are familiar with. All the activity materials must be prepared beforehand and on my own. This said, last Saturday, I was already busy baking the dog shaped cookies for the kids. The idea is that I wanted to let the kids taste the dog shaped cookies that they were making at the end of the class.

I was supposed to teach the kids at 9.30am today. Last night I was not able to sleep well and kept on having bad weird dreams like I didn't make it on time to the class, experienced multiple failures in making the cookies dough for the teaching material in the morning, had to remake the cookie dough twice and my husband had to teach the class because I came late to the school and so on. I had this series of nightmares that specifically involved making dog cookie dough. I reckoned I had much interrupted sleep last night because I was too anxious with the final preparation of today's class. God, how I took all this so seriously!

I didn't make the cookie dough yesterday because I worried the cookie dough wouldn't look so nice if it's kept overnight in the fridge. That's why, I decided to make the cookie dough for the kids to experiment with early this morning. Generally not a morning person, I woke up when the sky was still dark, even before the alarm that I set rang, to take the butter out from the fridge and let it sit for one hour to reach the room temperature before I could do anything with it.

At 7.30 am, I began making the cookie dough and one hour later, I finished rolling the cookie dough into mini balls. Considering the kids' age and time constraint, I would just ask the kids to decorate the cookies with chocolate rice, chocolate chips and koko krunch to make the cookies look like dogs.

I arrived to Naomi's school at around 9 something this morning. Once the kids had their routine circle time, the teachers had them wash their hands before heading to the outdoor class where the cookies making workshop with Naomi's Mommy was going to be held.

After Naomi's teacher asked me to take over the stage lawn, the cookies making class was officially started. I've actually asked my husband to print some baking ingredients and oven pictures to show the kids some visuals or the story of baking cookies. Nevertheless, I was so unsure if a story like this would draw the toddlers' interests. Since I was not confident enough with this idea, I cancelled this plan and wasted all the colour printed images.

The outdoor class set up.

Before I began the hands-on cookie making or decorating experience, I showed the kids the dog cookie that I already decorated and asked them to guess the shape of the cookies that we were making today. One of the kids said that we were going to make bear cookies. Then, some guessed the shape of the cookies were dog and cat. Then, one kid changed the topic and began telling the story of a cat and dog that I barely understood.

Brief introduction about dog cookies.

Anyway, I kept my introduction very briefly. Moving on, I showed the kids how to place the eyes, nose and ears of the dog to the cookie ball. Next, I asked one kid to get up and stand next to me so I could teach him how to make the dog cookie. My second student today was my own daughter. The one-to-one cookie making class continued for the next 20-25 minutes or so.

 One-to-One hands on cookie making workshop with toddlers.

Naomi's principal helped me teach some of kids how to make the dog cookies individually so each kid had the chance to make at least 1 cookie within the 30 minutes' time frame. Each of the kids had their chance to make the dog cookie once but some managed to do it twice. Naomi had the most chances because she kept hovering around me while I was teaching her friends and loved decorating the cookie balls into dog shape on her own. Maybe she thought we were having some play dough time with chocolates.

Teaching Naomi how to make the dog cookie.

I ended the class by asking kids to take the dog cookie that I baked during the weekend from me. Some kids ate one cookie, some ate more than one and my daughter didn't want to eat any of the cookies at all. So ironic, isn't it? Naomi was still very busy making more dog cookies whist all of her friends were chillax-ing on the grass and eating the cookies.

My assistant was always next to me when I did my first teaching gig.

The below picture shows the dog cookies that my one-off students made this morning. Some of them did really well in decorating the cookie without pressing the cookie ball too roughly. Some pressed the cookie balls too hard and made the dog cookies look very distorted. One kid gave three eyes to the dog cookie and one of the teachers said that the dog cookie that Naomi's friend created is a mutated dog.

The cookies that my students made today.

All in all, I had heaps of fun today. Teaching a group of kids was a whole new rewarding experience to me. All the troubles, tiredness that I spent in making and baking cookies twice in these 3 days, crazy yet so real bad dreams and waking up so early were so worth it. All the kids behaved so well and they showed great interest in the cookies that I was teaching. And oh, I conducted my cookies making class in Mandarin because most of the kids speak Mandarin at home! What a milestone for me. From someone who could only speak 人,吃,一二 三四 four years ago.. Now not only I can speak basic Mandarin, I am also able to teach and communicate with the kids in Mandarin. #proudtearsrollingdown

Thanks, Naomi's teachers - for the teaching opportunity earlier today.

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