This “fight or flight” mechanism is built into all humans, but is oddly absent from those in positions of power, making them better leaders and/or teachers. As teachers, popping balloons is as natural as using present perfect tense to describe life experiences, yet many students become uncomfortable after several balloons are popped in the classroom.
To lessen the fear that the students exhibit, forewarn them of the balloon popping so that they may mentally prepare themselves. Students do this in a variety of ways, whether it be plugging their ears, tensing their jaw muscles, focusing intently on the balloon, or asking questions related to your motivations.
A great way to move past the irrational fear of popping balloons would be to allow the student to pop a few themselves, under the supervision of the teacher. With the side of the balloon closest to the student (to avoid blowback), have them lightly insert a sharpened pin into it, bursting it. This may be repeated for every inflated balloon in the classroom.
As always, be respectful of the student’s needs.
In Japan, it is rare to have a pencil with an attached eraser. An eraser company by the name of Momo has successfully lobbied the Japanese government to make it illegal based on safety concerns. Other countries are little behind the times, unaware of the number of eraser/eye related injuries that happen everyday in the classroom.
Upon hearing of the eraser situations in other countries, most students are unable to grasp the concept. This may be remedied by visual demonstrations. The teacher should bring some cellophane tape into the class along with several pencils of different sizes, one eraser, and a sharp knife. In the classroom, have the student cut the eraser into smaller pieces and tape them to the ends of the pencils; one piece per pencil. Once the activity is finished, have the students hold all of the pencils and say “These are American pencils”, and have the student repeat.
It is conductive to the learning process to have the student apply their knowledge. You can do a roleplay with the student where they wish to buy some American pencils, but you only cell Japanese pencils, cellophane tape, sharp knives, and erasers. The student will instruct you how to create American pencils and then purchase all of them.