Monday, March 3, 2008

First Full Day of Teaching - Can I Take a Nap Now?

Wow. I am really tired. As in, I-feel-like-I-just-swam-the-English-Channel tired. It was, shall we say, rather hectic today. I had ten classes to teach, and I had to do the lesson plans as well. Then there were the mistakes that so enrich each new experience...

To start with, my first batch of kindergartners know absolutely no English. Imagine keeping a bunch of three and five year olds entertained for an hour, while actually teaching them something. Now imagine not having the ability to communicate and still having to do all that. Imagine trying to teach them a new game. Imagine trying to read them a story. Yeah, it was difficult to say the least. At least they're well-behaved and quiet.

My next batch of kindy kids are very energetic and have a good grasp of English. Unfortunately, I did not have the right book to teach them with. So, I learned my first lesson in improvisation. I reviewed with them, read a story, sang songs, and oddly enough, they liked it and I held their attention. Whew!

I ran into a problem later when one of my classes had been switched, and Cate forgot to tell me. After a few frantic moments, we got it sorted out. Actually, I'm delighted about the switch because it means I get to teach a terrific class of five little smarties who have an excellent grasp of English. I can carry on good conversations with them, and all of them are very eager to learn more. It is so rewarding to teach kids who want you to teach them.

My only other trouble was actually just the potential for trouble. All of my bad kids are in my last class, so I expected far worse than I got. I was very lucky today and was able to keep them on task, but I certainly felt the tension and worry the whole time. These kids are smart too, but they hide it well sometimes. I want them to learn, so I have to stay even more motivated than them, which I know will prove hard since they lack the eagerness of most of my other classes.

I learned a lot today. I figured out some techniques that work well, and I think I have accurately assessed which students I can depend on to help move the class along and set the right speed. I also learned just how great it feels to get mobbed by a bunch of adoring six-year-olds all trying to hug me at once.

Funny story: I picked up some microwave meals at the store today and decided to try one for lunch. It looked like a tasty chicken and rice dish, which it was. Unfortunately, it was an exceedingly hot tasty chicken and rice dish, so my lips were still tingling almost an hour later! It would really help if I could read Korean.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"