Mondays are always depressing and discouraging. My students never want to speak English and the mood seems all wrong. And I’m grumpy, too. Every Monday I feel like my class is not living up to my expectations.
Then Tuesday comes, and they are always awesome! I need to keep reminding myself of this. Today my students were so full of liveliness and energy and spoke SO much English with me today. I pushed them a little bit more, and I am amazed at how much they can remember. They are definitely the most enthusiastic class to teach and are so eager to learn.
Today was another great day. We learned about colors (which they already know) and we practiced identifying them around the room and also asking, “What color is it?” I love that they can ask each other questions in speaking class and are developing good habits with speaking in sentences. The other classes are amazing too, already learning the difference between count and non-count nouns, and when to use “a” and “an.” I will try to drill this stuff in early so they will be amazing by the time they move up to 7-years :)
On Friday my class of 8 will get a new student. We’ll see how this affects our delicate balance!
Tristan and I both felt that this week we finally reached that point where we’ve adjusted to the new school year and have settled into the routine. I guess it gets easier each year. We are just now finishing up week number three, and I think I’ve got the hang of it. It’s definitely an exhausting workload, but everything gets easier on us teachers the more the students learn.
My expectations of my students are much lower than for the other classes, but keeping that in mind, I am really pleased with what progress they have made. They’ve totally adapted to our routine and learned the songs and things that we sing every day. They pick up new words quickly and use them, especially nouns. They are fine with naming things but we’re not anywhere near making sentences (other than “I like __” or “It’s a __” with complex verbs. I will start pushing them more starting in April. Right now I’m just glad they are comfortable in an English environment, and they are willing to try and say things during class. This class speaking exclusively English, even at play time, seems like a distant fantasy though…
The week gets better and better. I just finished Thursday and I haven’t had a single energy drink all week, yet I’m not nearly as exhausted as last week!
My kids have impressed me with how quickly they are picking up new words and just following along with class routine. They are getting friendlier with each other and the atmosphere in my class is very positive and playful now. That’s how I like it. Today we had Show and Tell and two kids prepared something. I was surprised that they stood in front of the class alright, and one boy memorized a script and spoke very loudly and clearly. Way more than I expected! The other student brought cookies to share with everyone, so even though she didn’t speak much, she bribed everyone with sweets. A good tactic.
I taught our new montessori/geography class today which went over better than expected. My own class actually understood what I was talking about. I am really glad I understand Korean because I know when they’re on the right page, and I can teach them the corresponding English, and there’s little confusion. This year is going MUCH better than my first year when I was in the same situation. I think understand 99.9% of what’s said, which helps me not feel left out. And I think the kids trust me too since they can talk to me about important stuff.
I feel really good today, and I feel more determined than ever to make my class the best! I know it’s not a competition, but that’s how I get myself psyched up every year to stay a motivated and well-prepared teacher. I will do my best.
In other fantastic news, my first translation is available online now! Check it out:
Unraveling Memories Hidden for 25 Years <Ilda>
Although one week is a very short time in the grand scheme of things, it’s felt like an eternity. And although I sometimes have wondered how things can possibly go well, already there have been big improvements in my students’ excitement to participate with English and recitation of vocabulary. Yesterday was pretty gloomy as we sat at lunch, nobody said a thing in English or Korean, and nobody smiled or laughed all day. I was pretty worried. Today was totally different and students tried to speak to me in English, and finally started speaking to each other and are forming friendships.
Although I keep getting permission to alter the curriculum for my class and have lower expectations, I feel pretty bad letting them fall behind. Today I was impressed by how hard they worked in speaking class to learn the words and to make sentences, and noticed that they learn really well through songs. I will have to keep teaching through songs!
It’s only been a week but they’ve been working so hard, so I bet they will improve even faster than I expect. I hope to keep reporting good things.
Winter and Spring are battling it out for superiority at the moment, so we had a really lovely warm Saturday and then today it was back to below freezing temperatures. I hope it lets up soon so I can put my coat into storage and wear T-shirts again.
I don’t know what it is about this school year, or maybe it’s Mondays, but I just don’t feel as into the teaching as I usually do. I think I’m doing well and teaching as well as usual, but I don’t feel that connection or inspiration from the kids that I usually do. It hurts having a longer schedule with less wiggle room for spontaneity, but I don’t think that’s the only factor. A lot of it is that the kids can’t understand me and don’t want to talk to me, so there’s not much connection there. Anyway, I’m feeling a bit bleh about teaching today and am wondering how this year will pan out. I guess I felt this way for the first month or two my first year when I was in the same situation with non-English-speaking students, so we’ll see.
I’ve also been trying something different with sleep. My whole life I’ve used the time before falling asleep to organize my thoughts and mentally prepare for the next day. I’m the kind of person who needs that mental preparation time. The problem is, this kind of thinking frequently leads to a racing heart-beat while I stress away about all of the things that need to or could be done, and then it takes forever to fall asleep. Sometimes I can’t sleep at all. Now I’m trying to just make a to-do list during the day, and then when it’s time to sleep, I try to think about as little as possible and then I just fall asleep with a clear mind. I think this is helping a lot; at the very least I am getting more sleep!
There’s nothing special on the schedule for this week, just teaching. I’ll update if something exciting happens!