Well time flies and I have already completed one and a half weeks at the Special Educational Needs School where I am volunteering at the moment, I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed.
Each day I have worked with a different class so by now I have met most of the pupils and staff. The pupils are all very different and have needs that span the entire range. Some of the pupils can do very little for themselves and cannot speak at all, others would not be out of place in our own school. All of them bring their own special contribution to the school and make each day incredibly interesting.
In the morning sessions, they follow a timetable much as you would expect. They have specialist teachers for Music, Art, and PE and for the rest of the time they remain with their class teacher. When not in the seaparate lessons they work on learning the alphabet and on counting, this is covered in a variety of ways including colouring, singing and writing. The class that I worked with on Friday were practising the letter A, the teacher was very pleased to learn my name as it meant that the class could count how many As they were and could practise writing and saying my name while still working on the A as the focus.
I wanted to tell you about the Music lessons today as they were where I experienced my favorite part of the work so far. The lessons are not like the Music lessons that I had in school and mainly consist of karaoke, developing reading skills while expressing themselves. They may speak portuguese here in Brazil rather than the spanish that the rest of its neighbours use however they have the same latin love of song and dance and for many pupils the Music classroom is where they excel.
During this week's Music classes I have learned a couple of new songs and a couple of new dances. Needless to say the pupils here found my attempts at singing very entertaining in the same way that many of you do! The main song that we sung I had heard many times in Peru as well, it seems that it is a famous song internationally having been number 1 in lots of European countries although missing England completely despite the singer recording a version in English too. It is a cover track which has been done by a Brazilian singer named Michel Teló. Along with Justin Bieber he is the favourite with the pupils here and they have posters of both of them covering their books and walls. Some of you may recognise it as the song is used often in brazilian football to celebrate goals and has been used in England by players such as Ronaldo to do the same. I contemplated giving you a file of me singing the song but I decided that I like you all too much for that! I will save my renditions for when I am home. I have put the youtube link in though as I cannot possibly explain just how catchy this song is without you listening to it, so enjoy! If you haven't heard the song before or are not fluent in portuguese I will give you a brief translation. Basically the song is all about the singer meeting a beautiful lady and wanting to be with her, original I know, but it works! There is an inappropriate dance that goes with the song and all the kids are doing, very bizarre. I will leave you to search youtube for that yourselves!
Although learning the song helped my portuguese and was great fun it was not the best thing about the lessons. Yesterday I spent the morning with a small class of just 5 pupils. One of them uses a wheelchair and has intense needs. He spent the majority of the morning without engaging with anyone. He simply sat in his chair, not responding to any attempts at coversation by his teacher or when the carers wiped his mouth for him. Instead he sat with his head hung, silent, almost perfectly still other than threading a few beads onto a string. Throughout breaktime he sat in his chair in the middle of the playground facing the sun and interacting with nobody. I observed this and thought that this must be all he could do. Even when asked if he was hot he was non responsive, staying perfectly still as the carers took off his jacket for him. When we arrived at the Music lesson he continued in this way until the new Music Teacher began trying to make him join in. She kept talking to him even though he appeared to ignore her attempts. She kept asking him if he liked singing, no reponse at all, until she mentioned the name of a certain singer, Amado Batista, (whom I can only describe as the Daniel O'Donnell of Latin America) and then he lit up. He took the microphone in his hand, sat up straight, wiped his mouth and began to sing when she played the song. It was incredible to see this as I really had not believed that it would be possible. He made eye contact with us and sang the songs of this singer for at least 10 minutes. All of the pupils and the teacher were really pleased and he even smiled when he finished singing. It was such an amazing sight to experience and really showed me the importance of not making judgements and instead believing that anything is possible for anyone. After the lesson, it was hometime where I hope he had his music on and continued to love his day.
I can only hope that next week brings more revelations like this and continues to surprise me and make me think as much as the pupils have done so this week.
Right I will say ta ta for now but make sure you look at the youtube video and practise the song so that we can sing it together when I get back. Vianney, I really think it should be in our next assembly, although without the dance! João can translate for you. I am joking really, or am I..?