We all have bad days. As a teacher, what would you do if one of your students was always having a bad day? Aaron Kierbel, a Workshop Teaching Artist, shows us how he tackled the situation in his pre-kindergarten World Drumming class.
Isabella was an angry child. She would arrive to my drumming class every Wednesday in a bad mood. She would sit in the corner, make grouchy faces and cross her arms.
I didn’t know the cause of her angst, but her negative attitude was rubbing off on the other children and was starting to become a distraction.
I tried to pull her aside and ask her what was wrong, but she would not respond. I just couldn’t get her to participate in the drumming.
Then one morning, I started the class by having each kid go around in a circle and make a face, which the rest of the students had to imitate. When it came to Isabella, she made the same grouchy, pinched face that she always did.
When she saw her gestures mirrored back by her peers, she smiled uncontrollably. Immediately, something shifted in her.
I started doing this activity in every class as well as more dramatic play exercises. I noticed how Isabella became more engaged, enthusiastic and able to reflect on her attitude in a playful way. Isabella started showing up in the morning asking for the face game and she soon became a leader in the class.
Isabella’s shift in attitude inspired the other students. She also taught me how to engage students in music through the use of dramatic play.
From that point on, every time I caught Isabella making a grumpy face, she would laugh it off and return to playing.