Saturday, November 21, 2009

What time is it...?

Blog 36
November 18

Classes have been going well. I have finally seen all of my students and been awkwardly introduced as Noil. So much for a cute little nickname lol. The hardest part has been working with the English teachers. I think that my situation is unique in that since day one, I have been working equally with each of the three teachers. Usually that is a challenge for volunteers to do... to eventually work with the other teachers as well, and not just the counterpart. Johnny, for instance, is only working with his counterpart and the other teachers are fighting to work with him. (Just another example of not quite feeling as welcome and wanted as I had anticipated. Though absolutely not a bad thing...) I like working with all of the teachers... it's just that my counterpart is the only one who went to counterpart conference, and understands what I have been trained to do. It's hard to explain, but just know that it makes planning lessons difficult.
These teachers, like I've said, love doing what is in writing. If the book says, "Homework is to learn the new vocabulary words and do Ex. 4.", then that is the only thing that can be assigned for homework. My poor students are almost taking two different classes in one class period lol. The local teachers generally have the exact same style, which is to be mean to the "children" (yes, they call the students children... even when they are 16 and 17!) and only read from the book. I think they would fall asleep in their own classes if they were sitting down. They write every single ridiculous vocabulary word (like...) on the chalk board with the pronunciation symbols and translation. I technically don't have a problem with that... but I think it's something the students can do on their own... I mean it's in their books in front of them. It just takes entirely too much time - and it's unnecessary to do in class.
My plan this week, since I didn't have the chance to observe but one lesson, was to lay low and just watch what the teachers do. Planning has been difficult, it usually ends up with me going home and writing my own lesson plan, making my own materials, and we do my lesson - along with the book exercises (that make no sense, but are comfortable and safe; and nobody understands them... not even me sometimes :). I'm OK with it so far, but I hope these teachers don't think I'm just going to do their work for them for two years...
Pretty much everyday I've spent getting lost in making my lesson materials and listening to Christmas music. :) These lesson posters are like my little projects, its fun - like art class. I'm a professional tape lamenter. I made this great clock last night. I have to admit I'm pretty proud of it. It says "What time is it?" then on the bottom, "It's fun o'clock!" haha pretty dorky, I know. It even has hands that spin :) I tried to make it really nice so they could keep it, use it next year and the year after. I took it to my lesson today, and my English teacher friends didn't seem as impressed with it as I am lol. :( But the other teachers liked at it... I just get the feeling that the English department is not all on the same team. One day at a time.
In our 6th grade book, the next lesson looks like a page from a dictionary. With words like preserve, effect, to depend upon, to deal with... 20 dictionary-esk excerpts... with ridiculous words. My counterpart thought we should write them all up on the board... That's not what I thought we should do, but... I'm not sure what to do with this lesson lol. So, again, I'm basically coming up with the thing on my own. I was sitting in the teacher's lounge brainstorming about how I can simplify this. These kids can't even say it's snowing outside, let alone speak about an organism in English... Another teacher walked in and saw me puzzled, so she asked what I was doing. I, caught off guard, told her that these books were bad lol, and showed her two pages full of only text. Another teacher told me that this school doesn't have money like America haha. "Uhh... Well, sir this book is actually a 2009 book, brand new. What I mean is the content in the book is not good." "Oh,", the first teacher said... "Actually my book is terrible too...". The guy teacher was like, 'yeah mine too... all of the books we use in this school are really bad." lol. Huh. It just doesn't make much sense to continue using something that isn't worth using - or even right (like spelling and grammar in my case).

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