Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Back On Track - Park Centre - observation

Back On Track - Park Centre Group - 28th April -
Oval Theatre - 10.30-12.30

Karen and Tunde are the facilitators for this session with the Park centre pupil referral unit class. This week, however, Tunde was unable to be there so Craig took over. We were unsure how the lesson who pan out as we had discussed before the possibility of them playing up with us there and being unsure with us as we are new faces. We were told the group did not like change as this is why we were gradually being introduced to the class.

The class, which consists of 6 black boys aged 13-15 years old, starts at 10.30am with breakfast in the Oval cafe. They all fill themselves up with toast, juice and fruit. As they were eating, myself and Monsay introduced ourselves with received a luke warm reception! So while they finished eating myself, Monsay, Craig and Karen went through what we were going to do today.

This is what we planned to do in the session (if we had time for all of them):

1. Start with a name game - in a circle you say your name to the person on your right, then they say their name to the person on their right, etc.
Once this has been done a few times we would introduce the new rule: if u say your name twice you change direction in the circle. and if you say someone-else's name three times then its passed to that person and they continue the game.

2. Chair Cover - Everyone sits on a chair, there is one empty chair and the group must protect it from the person who is on who is trying to sit on it. As soon as you leave your chair someone need to protect that chair. In this game you work as a group and help and support each other as a team. It requires lots of concentration and discipline.

3. Cat and Mouse - To get them active we wanted to play the popular game. It is fun but needs a high level of concentration as you could be caught out if your not paying attention.

4. Object game - A object is selected, it is passed around a circle and each person has to pretend and use it as something else other than what it is.

5. Its not a chair - This games follows on from the object game. An object, like a chair is placed in the centre. One member enters the area and creates a scene with the object, using it as something else. Once they have established the scene another member of the class will enter and join in. When this has run on for long enough, the first person leaves and the second person changes the object and creates a scene with it. Once they have the scene another person joins, etc.

6. yes/no.maybe game - someone asks you a question but you can not reply with YES, NO or MAYBE.

7. Question game - Leading on from the yes/no/maybe game, you have to answer a question with a question. This requires a lot of concentration and discipline.

8. The improvisation - For the devising part, we decided to link the games into their work. Each group would have to create a scene using an object as something it is not. Include a beginning, middle and end with characters and a purpose to the scene. We would then give feedback and try and guess what the object was if it wasn't stated in the scene.

This is what actually happened:

We started with the check in, some peoples numbers were low as they were tired and even bored already! Then myself and Monsay introduced ourselves and told them what we are doing and what we will be doing with them next week. Then we started the session with the name game, just going around the circle saying our name. When we introduced the extra rules some of the boys just didn't get it. They were talking over Craig when he was giving instructions, they were being disruptive and they were saying they were bored of it. One student was lying about his own name and another was covering his face with his hood and he wouldn't take it off even when Karen asked him to. Karen had to refer back to the guidelines on the wall of RESPECT, SAFETY and COMMITMENT. They were not showing any respect or commitment to the class.

So we moved onto the Chair Cover game. After a few minutes of rule breaking we managed to start playing the game properly. Unfortunately after three successful rounds of Chair Cover, the disruption began. One boy was the main instigator of the chaos and he pulled focus from the games. Then one by one they got up and said they were leaving. In these sessions they are given Time Outs to have with their teacher if they have a problem. Today they were all calling for it and were making other excuses just to leave the class. With two students left remaining we decided to abandon the session.

When all the students left, myself and Monsay talked to Karen and Craig about what just happened. We all agreed that it was partly to do with Tunde not being here as he is the one that keeps them in line, but mainly to do with there being three new faces in the class today and them not being able to handle it, especially as myself and Monsay two white women. The boys were saying the reason was because they were bored and they wanted to get stuck into the drama, which is great but we need to start somewhere and needed to know their names. From arrival at the breakfast table Karen and Craig noticed a change in them. We were told that one boy who has recently returned back to school from being expelled was up from some chaos today.

It just shows how vulnerable these boys are. How one small change to their routine has caused this much of a disruption. Karen said she didn't even recognise them today, their reverted back to how they were behaving in their first few sessions which was a long time ago and they had come a long way from that. They were distant, there was no connection, no participation and they were easily distracted by other members playing up. Also they just had a long break away from the sessions, as it was Easter and then last weeks session was cancelled. They cant handle that, they need consistency. We shouldn't have been allowed to come into the class as they were so vulnerable and they had only just started to 'form' as a group. So it is best that we will not be going back to that class next week. It is a shame as i think they would have enjoyed the piece of theatre we had devised for them, but they are obviously not ready for it all yet.

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