Wednesday, 23 February 2011

I-to-I day five: Class change

Wednesday 23rd February 2011

MP3 track of the day: Everybody's Changing - Keane

Weather: Hot

I woke up brimming with confidence; I had my lesson plan, I had gone through the text book for today … I was prepared. As I sat in the restaurant, eating yet more pancakes, Ricky came in looking a little upset. He announced that he had to leave the programme today. He had a phone call this morning telling him that his father had been taken ill and he had to fly home. He asked us to pass the information onto Kim Lee (our leader, remembered his name now) and he went off to pack.

We wished Ricky well and then the three of us left. The tuk-tuk driver wasn't happy; basically the tuk-tuk driver gets paid $3.00 per person and now he was one down. We couldn't believe he was complaining, and then, I remembered that I was in South East Asia where money means more than life. I would just pay the man today and not thank him for his work.

On the way to the school I was asked to change from class B to Ricky's class A. Class A was the most advance class within the school and so a different text book was used. I didn't mind changing (Class A's classroom was cooler and quieter) however I was gutted that I had spent time last night lesson planning for class B. We pulled into the school and I immediately picked up the 'let's go student book', my new text. Today I would be teaching two basic conversational techniques. The first one was to explain what the individual was doing, for example:

  • What are you doing?

  • I'm / I am coming my hair.

The second conversational technique focused on talking about someone else, for example:

  • What's he/she doing?

  • He's/she's fishing.

I didn't have time to prepare; my class (of two) were already in the classroom and so I would have to make it up as I went along. Things didn't start well; I was told that class A were the most advanced class within the school, however I felt that some of my early questions were asking too much. I basically thought class A were more advanced then they were. Secondly class A only consisted of two girls which made it very hard to do role play or try to bounce ideas off a group. Also one of the girls was a lot more advanced than the other (I actually think the other girl should have been in class b) and so it was difficult to keep them both stimulated and get the less developed girl to answer questions without the advanced one answering for her. We started off with 'What's he/she doing?' which, in hindsight, probably wasn't the best place to start. We went through the examples given in the book:

  • He's swimming

  • He's fishing

  • He's sleeping

  • She's colouring

  • She's running

  • She's playing

Afterwards I got them to associate each of the above activities with either a 'boy' or a 'girl' changing 'he's' to 'she's' where appropriate. I then asked my two students for activities that they like to do. There faces went blank, but eventually the ideas came flooding in and I got sentences like 'she's riding her bike'. I wrote each example on the board and, once out of board space, I got the two of them to copy the list down. It was then time for break.

After the break I kept the list of activities and changed ''he's/she's' to 'I'm'. I then got the two girls to roleplay between themselves, one asking the other 'What are you doing?' and the other replying with an activity. I also mentioned that 'I'm' is short for 'I am', 'what's' short for 'what is', 'he's' short for 'he is' and 'she's' short for 'she is'. I finished with a few games of 'beat the clock' which the two girls enjoyed. The lesson was over and I could relax. The two girls said 'thank you teacher' and I replied 'thank you students' before they scurried off.

I then had two hours; I had something to eat before flicking through the same lesson for this afternoons class of eleven. I wasn't totally happy with my performance this morning; there were too many blank looks, too many pauses where I had run out of ideas and the class didn't flow. That wasn't going to happen this afternoon. Again another stroke of genus hit me. I picked up some colouring pens, paper and put them within my classroom. I got the board ready for the 'what are you doing?' part of the lesson and I was ready, awaiting my afternoon students. I had plenty of break time left so I read my book and talked to the others.

Eventually it was time to go back to class; as I walked through the door my students stood up and said 'good afternoon teacher'. I replied by indicating that they didn't need to shout and I said 'good afternoon students'. I started drilling 'what are you doing?' and this group of students seemed brighter than the first. Once I had drilled I yet again asked for other activity suggestions until the board was full. With only fifteen minutes before break I handed out colouring pens and paper. The students became very excited as they knew drawing was involved. I asked the students to get into groups of two; student 'A' would ask student 'B' 'what are you doing?' Student 'B' would reply, for example, 'I am combing my hair'. I then asked student 'A' to draw student 'B's' reply.

I got a lot of blank faces. The students didn't understand that I wanted them to draw their partners reply and not their own. I tried to explain but failed, instead I asked them to draw themselves doing one of the activities. They understood that instruction and so they got down to drawing with utter silence. It was break time, however a lot of students stayed in the classroom to finish their drawings. After break I asked the students to ask me 'What are you doing?'. I had drawn – not very well – me driving a car, therefore me reply was 'I am driving my car'. I asked each student, individually, to stand up, show everybody their drawings, and then I asked the rest of the class to ask the individual 'what are you doing?'. The student would reply with what activity they had drawn.

After this we went through 'What's he/she doing?' and, as I already had the drawings, I asked 'What is he/she doing?' pointing to a student. The student would stand up, show everybody their drawing, and everyone would reply 'She's / he's playing tennis', for example. The class went very well and the students laughed as they saw each others drawing. This had taken so much of the lesson that we only had time to do one round of 'beat the clock'. It was time to go; my students stood up 'said thank you teacher' and I said thank you back. In Khmer the students asked a Cambodian teacher a question. She said that they had asked how long I was going to teach them for and my reply was three weeks. They all shouted 'yes' when they herd and their little faces lit up. I wasn't sure if it was because they were glad that I was their teacher for three weeks, or if they thought that I would only be around for three weeks. I think it was the first and I felt pretty good. On the tuk-tuk back I assessed my day; the first lesson had been quite bad whereas the second had gone really well. I loved the fact my students liked me and the fact they loved drawing ... I shall use that again.

I got back to my guesthouse with enthusiasm; I sat down, surfed the internet and lesson planned, for class A, for tomorrow. Hopefully I would still be with them tomorrow (you can see the lesson plan below). I surfed and lesson planned late into the evening. Once finished I had something to eat and then went upstairs to read, and watch television, before falling asleep. You know I said previously that the four hour teaching time per day didn't seem much. I was now certain that it was just about right.

Toodle Pip!

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