Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaching Update

As far as teaching goes, this past week was an eventful one.

I was aware that I had two new classes and one VIP class that would be added this past weekend, or so I thought until Friday, when we had a teachers' meeting at my school. At the meeting, I was surprised to be informed that I had four classes and the VIP class beginning. Ooooops, we forgot to tell you, we've been so busy...

It's a good thing we had the meeting, or I would have found out minutes after the bell rang when someone would have come to ask me why Ím not in class... There are many wonderful things about my school, but I'm afraid "timely, clear communication" still needs some work.

The school is growing extremely fast, adding new branches each year, and they have brought in a consultant to help them get things like this sorted out; already some very positive changes are coming out of this.

Thankfully, all of the new classes will use material I've already taught at least once, so there won't be much additional lesson preparation, just a little extra for the VIP student. (She is ten years old and impressively smart; I'll need to prepare some extra speaking activities for her since the group work won't apply.) The new classes all went off smoothly and I had a good weekend's classes, despite yet another cold/sore throat coming on.

One thing I have learned about myself here is the kind of schedule I prefer. After years of working in the 8-to-5 corporate world, I find that I prefer to have a nice, steady, regular work schedule. The constant and often last minute schedule changes stress me out, and the handful of classes on weeknights (2 hours per night), followed by an intense 18 hours on Saturday and Sunday really exhausts me and compromises my immune system. My two days off I spend resting, cleaning the apartment and so on, usually trying to nurse a cold back to health.

I do hope that I'm becoming a better teacher through all of this. Working with children is not really something I had imagined myself doing. I love them, they are really fun, but I wish I had taken some child development courses, or classroom management for teaching young children, or something. I'm learning to manage the children via the "sink or swim" method... some of my Chinese co-teachers have taught me a lot of tips and tricks, for which I'm very grateful.

As for the Interactive White Board (SmartBoard), my opinion is that it is a great tool for upper level students, but for children, it's like putting a big TV in the room and then asking them to listen to me. In addition, at least the way this school uses it, there is a huge amount of work in preparing lesson files to be used with the SmartBoard. I miss my classes from last spring where we had old fashioned chalkboards... less work and more fun for me, and the kids liked the chalkboard just as much.

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