And they're multiplying!
Or at least that's what it felt like today.
I taught a one off lesson at a community centre. I'm still not sure what the exact set up is but once a month they have a 100 yen open house for 0-3 year olds and a different theme each time. The theme (music/ rhythm/ crafts/ English) runs for an hour and a half and then they eat a home made snack prepared by an army of oompaloompa like old women in the cooking room below the open house room. The oompaloompa like quality of it is the magic of making home made snacks (this month was a Nagano speciality- oyaki or grilled and steamed veggie dumplings) in that time and when they have no idea how many people will turn up until they actually turn up. Seriously!
My brief before I went was to teach for 'about an hour' to 'about 50' people and keep it simple with songs and games. A couple of mums whose kids I teach at my real job knew the centre and added the info that the kids would probably not pay attention and just to keep teaching anyway.
At this point I should mention that my regular work environment is a nice well appointed room with 3-7 kids whom I see every week.
And they pay attention.
I turned up bright and early to get the lay of the land and set up and whoa- huge and cavernous room with not a speck of colour (there goes my 'touch something red!' game...) and the people kept coming in.
And coming in.
It was then that I realised we had had a small misunderstanding. I had heard 'about 50' people as 25 kids and their respective mothers. The woman organising the day had meant 'about 50 kids' giving me about 100 people in the room. I never heard the official head count but it was more than 100.
Oh and the one hour lesson? The snack making army were slightly overwhelmed (hey, know that feeling!) and asked for an extra 30 minutes- at the 50 minute point in my class.... Now, I know some teachers frown on the teaching as a performance art idea but that's the way I do things. There is a warm up, the main event and then I draw it to a nice tight and punchy close. Leave 'em wanting more. To be in the wind down period and then asked to stretch my lesson was pretty shattering. The class dragged a bit as I tried to reinstate the oomph. The kids were also pretty much over doing anything after an hour of jumping and running and heads, shoulders, knees and toes-ing. The leader cut me some slack and declared a 10 minute drink break and then thankfully I was using up some time having each kid say hello for a sticker (the verbal ones anyway) when an angel in an apron whispered in my ear that snacks were ready.
Sweeter words have never been said!
Other than the sudden extension and the initial numbers shock it was actually a lot of fun. The bigger the audience the bigger the reaction and I got to haul all my tired old jokes out of cobwebs for a room full of people who'd never heard them- bonus!
Still, I was absolutely shattered by the end of it, have the greatest respect for my kids Kinder teachers and the effort that must go into getting 200 kids (minus their mothers) to learn the dances for the kinder sports day, and went back to work to teach 5 five year olds feeling like that is such a cosy and manageable number!