the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Advanced English Seminar

So, last Wed I taught an "advanced English seminar" to junior highers. It was a voluntary class, and you had to have about a B+ average to get in.

My lesson was basically test-prep reading, and that was popular. I had no idea how advanced these advanced students would be, so there were four short readings from fake flyers about finding an apartment.

After some initial macro and micro reading questions, I gave them roles like, I'm a college student without much money or, I work full time and have a car. I intended to put them into groups with these roles and have them choose a place to live together.

As it turns out, not all the students like each other, and insisted on making groups across the room instead of with nearby pairs. So grouping ended up taking too much time, and I ended up scrapping that and giving roles by row and randomly choosing one person to announce which place they had chosen and why.

Apparently a few students complained that the class was too easy - also our goals of learning were a little different - but I also met a student today who said it was just the right level of challenge.

It was a little scary only teaching one lesson to "advanced students". I learned a little about their learning styles - besides picky groups they also seem to question why i would mix other skills with their reading and writing. I'll readjust my strategies for next time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A stressful day at work

So, this morning at work was more stressful than I was expecting.  You would think that junior high students would be the most stressful part of the job, but in my experiences here so far, it's usually got more to do with the adminstration.

Today, after the typhoon on Wednesday, there was a storm warning announced on TV at 7:45am.  Evidently, we have a policy that when there's a storm warning issued we'll have a two hour late start.  The problem was, it was totally sunny (and remained so all day, seems the weather report was wrong), and when I got off the train at 7:30, there were already about 60 students who had gotten off. 

So teachers were not allowed to teach during the first two hours of the day because not all students had arrived, but we had to supervise the students in homerooms who had already come to school.  In the classroom I supervised, 30 out of 40 had come to school on time.  It was great time for the students have a two-hour study hall, but I have to admit that it seemed like a needless waste of time.  I wished this policy was a little more flexible, and I wondered who ever came up with it in the first place.

On top of that, my co-worker and I are co-writing the final listening tests this week to be proofread by next week, and recorded and ready for students in two weeks.  It's my first time doing this at this school, so I'm fairly unsure of the format.  My co-worker told me that we should make five sections of five questions each for a total of 25 questions at two points each which will give us a total of 50 points which is the weight of this test on their final grade.  So I wrote my half with 5 questions per section.  When I got her half to combine with mine she said that she didn't want to correct that many questions, so she had only written 3 questions per section.

I'm not quick with math any more, so I told her I'd try and make it work with the point total.  As it turns out, there's no total of 3 parts 5 questions and two parts three questions that equals 50 points.  I even tried deleting some of my questions and it didn't work.  Basically the only way to do it is 10 questions worth five points, or 25 questions worth 2 points.  I told her this and asked if we could change her half of the test.  She said yeah, I could write more questions for HER half of the test.  So basically she left more work for me to do - knowingly or negligently I don't know. 

And to top it off, it looks like she didn't proofread it before she gave it to me.  I found about five semi-major mistakes - just the kind of stuff you do when you're writing fast.  This didn't take that long to fix actually, maybe 30 minutes, but it was frustrating none the less. 

Every day takes grace and strength from outside myself.  It kind of takes you by surprise sometimes.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Open Campus Day

It's been a long time since I've had time to reflect. I feel like I've been busy since I started at this school in April. Maybe I just haven't taken the time I need.

Today was "Open Campus" at our school. It's a day when potential students and their parents come to visit. With the help of three co-workers and two of my regular students, I get a lesson on sports, likes and dislikes.

Even though they were only 5th and 6th graders. One on one they were fairly confident in their English, but with parents and other students they didn't know they room got quiet really quick.

At first, I tried to use some of the kids as examples, but that didn't work so well, so my co-worker stepped in and said, "use me!".

I have to admit that we haven't always gotten along, and she didn't particularly look thrilled to be there, but she really saved the day!

Later on when I thanked her, she said, "no prob. That's what we do around here, teamwork." I'm learning her definition of teamwork, and today I liked it. :)

After that, all in all the lesson went well. I used to work with elementary kids until this April, so I thought it'd be a snap. Things are not usually as easy as you think, and maybe that's a blessing in disguise.

In hindsight, I think I could have talked a little slower and included people more. I was surprisingly nervous being there in front of parents and new students. I need to stay calm and focused even in new situations, and stay flexible too.

I had an interview a year ago where the interviewer told me, "it doesn't matter so much what kind of a job you do. What's more important is what kind of person you are." At an interview that confused me, but I am finally starting to see what he meant.

Maybe I focus too much on tasks and not enough on people. Maybe next time we can try working more together on something. We'll have to make time for that.

Coming up already next week: writing final tests together! :) Wish us luck!