Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Impending Summer

As is so often the case I find myself both relaxed and worried. This week is probably going to be my easiest week of work since I began teaching here. It is the last week before summer vacation for the kids. Each class I teach is two hours and it has been only the first hour of each class that we are actually doing any work. The second hour has been merely a party where the kids get to bring snacks and we show them a video for fun.

The work that we have been doing that first hour is going to what we call our English Village. This is a large room in the school in which they created different sections where the kids must practice their English for specific settings. There is a restaurant, a store, a bank and an airport all set up. This week they are going to the restaurant and the bank. I have been acting as the waiter and cashier for the kids at the restaurant. They have to practice ordering off a menu, which includes main dishes, appetizers, desserts and drinks. Then they have to pay for their meal using fake American money we gave them. The word appetizer has probably been the hardest part for everyone.

Now everyone can see the menu as they wait in line to order so it is kind of interesting to see how well the kids understand how money works. Most of the kids ordered and then after I tell them how much they owe they have to lay out their money on the counter and try and figure out how to give me the right amount. They had to pay the exact amount I was not giving them change. They all had enough money and the correct denominations to pay the exact amount so figuring out how to give me seventeen dollars instead of just twenty was part of the exercise. But there were a few kids, mostly girls, who ordered their meal and handed me the exact amount even as I was adding up the total. After buying their meal the kids then went over to the bank where they deposited the money they did not spend with my co-teacher. That was another fun thing to see, when the kids found out they had to put the rest of their money in the bank some of them started buying less in order to have more money left over for the bank, again mostly girls, and some just went all out and tried to spend all their money, which was not possible with the prices, and these were mostly boys. Ah the odd things you notice when you take lunch orders for seventy kids.

The worst part about it has been that this section of the school has absolutely no air conditioning and only a few tiny windows. I have been sweating to the point of actually dripping onto the counter in front of me. The kids have noticed the heat too and the longer we are there the faster the kids order so they can go to the bank and then get back to the classroom where there is air conditioning. Sadly that was not an option for me I had to be in there for everyone’s order. As the days have been getting hotter the school has finally allowed us to control the air conditioning in our own rooms. Since then I have discovered that my co-teacher and I do not share the same feelings about what is a comfortable temperature. This does not surprise me but being in the room with him reminds me a lot of Phoenix. In Phoenix it would be triple digits outside but when you walked into a store or movie theater the temperature would drop 30 or 40 degrees and there would be freezing cold air blowing on you constantly. Basically, my co-teacher likes it cold.

Now in two weeks my Summer Camps begin. These camps are intensive language sessions for all the grades. So for one week the kids will have four hours of English a day; two hours with me and two hours with the 3rd and 4th grade English teacher. There are three major changes I will be facing. First I will be teaching alone, second I will be teaching all the grades (1st-6th, not just 5th and 6th), and third I have no set curriculum but rather must create all my lessons from scratch just like I have been doing with my after school classes. I also must coordinate my lessons with the other teacher so that we are working together even though we won’t actually be working together. Now my concerns change depending upon the age of the kids. With the younger kids the lesson planning is far easier (the alphabet, colors, animals) but teaching alone is far more scary. They are just beginning and don’t know any English so I just don’t know how you get started when the teacher and the students don’t speak the same language. Then as the kids get older (4th, 5th and 6th graders) I become less concerned about being alone with them since I have experienced that before rather I am far more concerned about lesson planning as their lessons need to more difficult yet not to difficult. Finding the proper middle ground between too easy and too hard has been fairly difficult with my after school classes. So the rest of this week and all of next week will go towards planning for my Summer Camps. I can tell you that my concerns will not subside any time soon but if nothing else at least I have some time to relax while I worry about it.

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