By Rani Obeid- Cohort 7 Fellow
The first thing that drew my attention the moment I entered Grade one was one student sitting alone on his desk. All other students sat in pairs except for him. After knowing the names of most of the class, it was this boy’s turn to stand up and introduce himself to his classmates. When I asked him to do so, he started shouting and crawled under his desk. He made weird sounds. I couldn’t distinguish if he was laughing or crying. I sat down on the floor and tried to speak to him in a nice way. I wanted him to know that I was there to help him. It was a complete failure. He refused to even look at me.
I continued my work with the class and left the boy hiding under the desk. Sessions passed and Amir was the center of complaints in the school. Teachers couldn’t bear him in class. Seeing him being pulled out of class became a daily view. He refused to use his books, pencils and to do any classwork.
I tried to sit next to Amir during every session without talking to him. At first, he hid under the desk. Then, he sat beside me and listened without any interaction. After that, he started to participate in the classroom.
Amir’s parents left him since he was a little boy. His only guardian was his grandmother. Amir was certainly in a psychological crisis. Amir started to show up during warm up activity. He didn’t speak much, but he laughed, moved and clapped most of the times. He only needed to speak up, I wanted him to be able to speak without being scared. He didn’t read or answer questions or even talked to any of his classmates.
One time I thought of singing the words of the lesson to students following a certain tune so that they could sing along and learn. Amir was so happy by the tune. He started to move in his desk and eventually started repeating the words with his classmates.
Amir spoke!! he obviously was so scared to expose his voice alone. Several times, Amir used to whisper something to me; an answer, a request. I used to say it out loud for the whole class. Day after day and due to the atmosphere of acceptance created in the class, Amir became more engaged in speaking up in either answering questions, giving his opinion or even talking to his friends. It is a real success story to see a child fighting his fears and overcoming a challenge. I’m so happy to be part of it.