The Keen Bean
This is the second installment of my observations of the Thai classroom. If you didn’t read #1, and would like to, click here for the first installment.
Enter the class. Hands scramble for the pile of worksheets in my arms. If there is a small number of Keen Bean students then a battle ensues as to who can have the honour of distributing the papers out, and who can do it most efficiently.
“TEACHER! TEACHER!” – a notebook is thrust under your nose to proudly show you the date and title, the completion of each and every sentence, the illustrations, the “I Love Teacher” declarations.
“TEACHER FINISHED!” is exclaimed at every interval – no, they have not finished the whole exercise but the Keen Bean must make you aware of every step that they are taking. A title, a number, a sentence, a full stop.
“TEACHER SIN!” – ahem, they can’t pronounce sign… Yes, their notebook must be covered in as much red pen as possible. They need you to tick every line, to draw stars and smiley faces, to sign your name, autographing celebrity style across the base of the page. “VERY GOOD, TEACHER, VERY GOOD!” – no other written praise will do – I tried to write ‘fantastic’ before but the poor child didn’t understand what it meant and almost cried.
Don’t have a red pen to hand (BAD TEACHER… tsk, tsk) – worry not because your Keen Bean students have PLENTY.
“CLEAN? TEACHER?” – board eraser in hand, poised to wipe my ramblings from the whiteboard. Sometimes I can’t locate the eraser but it has usually been secreted by a super-Keen Bean student who wants sole responsibility for the board management.
“CARRY? TEACHER?” – no, they aren’t offering to carry me like a queen through the corridoor as I leave, but they are fighting over who will have the coveted responsibility of carrying my things back to the office for me while I follow feeling quite awkward and hoping that no one assumes that I actually make these students do this for me like they are my minions.
The Keen Bean role is usually reserved for 3 or 4 girls in the class but in one of my classes I have 2 boys who are leading in the keenness stakes. They always gravitate to the front right of the classroom – as close to the teacher’s desk (or, in most cases, where the desk should be) as possible. Usually front right. This places them in the best position to be to hand for ANYTHING that the teacher may need, and to gain maximum opportunity for thrusting the notebook under your nose.
These are the students that write messages on the board before your arrival, usually declaring their love for you. Sometimes their behaviour verges on the brown nosing (who am I kidding; sometimes?!) but at times when the other 47 kids are making you feel like a crappy teacher, it is the Keen Bean students who will bring you back to that special fuzzy place. Unless they are thrusting that notebook, red pen and board eraser under your nose while you are trying to stop the monkey boys from throwing the smallest student out of the doorway and into the bin. Then they are just plain annoying.
Do you have any Keen Bean’s in your class? Are they super-sweet or just plain old annoying?