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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Princess Academy

I apologize for being a wee bit late with this week's entry. With the summer classes kicking off I've been quite busy getting used to the new routine.

My classes are going quite well, though, and I have absolutely no complaints. My Japanese for Teens class is a delight - with the exception of one girl all of my students are big anime/manga fans who have an interest in learning more about the language and culture. They are all very involved in class and the hour goes by like nothing! My Creative Writing class is also wonderful - five girls and one boy make up this course, and they are all very creative and sweet.

However, my one class I'd like to focus this particular entry on is Princess Academy. I've made a few mentions of it here and there on Facebook and some friends have asked questions, so I'd like to go into more detail about it here!

Photo from imagebarrel.com

Princess Academy was inspired by a thread on EGL that revolved around working children's birthday parties in lolita. Some girls said they would dress up as "princesses" and do tea parties and face painting. I got to thinking and I thought - "how neat would it be to have a class that teaches girls how to be princesses? I could dress up, they could dress up, and it would just be good, happy fun!"

I proposed the idea to my supervisors at Woodlawn. They said they'd offer it for registration but were a little hesitant at how well it would be received. This was around March. By the time I came home after graduation, and stopped in at the school, I was delighted to find out that Princess Academy was not only getting students, but it was full with a waitlist! I decided to open up a second section that would be directly after the first class, so I have 12 little princesses from 10am-11am and 6 more from 11am-12pm.

I want to keep this class as fun and imaginative as possible, so to do just that I created a princess persona to act under while I'm teaching: Princess Lillian. Lillian is just like any other "princess" - she's fun-loving and sweet with a soft, kind voice. Lillian's mother (known only as "the Queen"), has given her a special test that she must pass before she can receive her princess crown - that test is to successfully pass her knowledge of princess etiquette on to other young princesses-in-training. The benefit of this background information is to give the students a sense of purpose - they are the ones who can help Lillian get her crown by doing their best each class to be perfect ladies! ;)

What "Princess Lillian" wore to school today

Each class has a specfic schedule that I'll be following, for reaons that kids in this age range thrive on routine, and to keep things organized and keep them moving about, busy, and entertained for the full hour:
5 minutes: "The Princess Dance"
10 minutes: Story of the day
20 minutes: Activity 1 (normally something arts-and-crafts-related)
20 minutes: Activity 2 (etiquette)
5 minutes: "Every Girl Can Be a Princess"

For today's lesson, our first activity was talking about what princesses do - what do they wear? How do they act? How do they spend their day? After our discussion the girls drew their own princesses and showed them to the rest of the class. Our etiquette activity was "princess posture" - I overdramatically slouched myself over and asked, "Is this how a princess should stand?" After a chorus of enthusiastic "NO!"s erupted, I placed a book on my head and proceeded to stride about the room, demonstrating the proper princess walk and stance. I brought books for the girls to use, and they took turns walking about the room. The spectacle was quite adorable and hilarious to watch, because most of them basically held the book on top of their head as they walked, rather than trying to balance it, and to top it off, while holding said book, they'd walk very slowly, taking the littlest steps - too cute!

Photo from animegallery.com

I think my favorite thing about this class is that I'm making little girls believe that real princesses can exist, even in a town as small as the one I grew up in. Also, the fact that I'm making them believe that they too are princesses makes me feel that I'm doing great things for their self-confidence. Lastly, in a class where interaction is key, I'm happy to see that many of my students are already forming friendships with each other. :)

I am optimistic that this class will only continue to be successful and grow into something that will greatly benefit not only Woodlawn, but my own personal growth as a woman and teacher.

~Loli-Sensei~

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