Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Daily Grind

I haven't been doing anything of note lately. Trying to get adjusted to my new workplace environment and spending time with Catherine.

The new school has been a challenge. The class sizes and ages of the students have forced me to change my approach. At the Shulin school, I taught classes from 20 to 30 students aged 7 to 13. At the Dunhua school, the classes are rarely over 10 students and many of my teaching hours are spent teaching adults on a one-on-one basis. Also, I have been given a kindergarten class with 4 adorable little ones, they are a handful.

I am not terribly crazy about teaching adults, let alone just one at a time. Adult students are tough because of the wide range of abilities. Sometimes they just want English conversation in order to strengthen existing skills, others are newbies. The folks looking for conversation are generally pretty easy gigs. The newbies are really difficult because learning a language as an adult is insanely difficult. It's tough to get them to drop all of the rules they use in their native language and start over again.

These past few weeks have shown me that I am most comfortable with a big group. I am at my best in front of 25 kids. I think I like the bigger groups because activities are a lot easier to pull off with a bigger group. Also, I don't have to make a big lesson plan for a large group because it's important that all the kids in each class speak at least one time every session. Getting every kid in a class of 25 to speak eats up a lot of class time. When teaching 5 or 6, you have to come up with several activities because nothing lasts very long. My teaching style is very unorthodox, I rarely write out a lesson plan for my classes. I have always been able to walk into a classroom and work from memory. I have an uncanny ability to lead a class on the fly, without a written out plan. Lately this has become problematic because the small classes require a lot more content. I have found myself coming up short in some of my classes because I just don't have enough material to cover 2 hours when activities only last a few minutes.

I am working hard at modifying my approach. It's been frustrating, but I will pull through.

Catherine and I have been having a great time. We continue to enjoy our time together. She is an incredible woman...I am lucky to have her in my life.

Here are a few pics of Neil, a wonderfully silly boy who is a student in my kindergarten class.

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