My first class was four hours long, with a ten minute break every hour. I was carefully watching the clock so I would know when to call our first break. I got mixed up, and thinking we had gotten through all of the material early I started killing time. Victoria, the Chinese partner I had been paired with didn’t say anything about the missing break. Half an hour later she finally asked “um, Jenn-yfer when are we doing break?”
Feeling more than a bit guilty, I led our group of children to the bathroom, and then put on a short video, while I looked through my notes for the second part of the class (which was now going to have to be shortened to adjust for the lost time). Victoria had prepared the lesson plan, as I had not been trained to teach the level. Victoria’s version of lesson planning was devoid of detail. Instead of adding fun activities and games to the class, she simply had us reading from the text books over and over again. Still I ploughed through the material as best I could.
The kids were quiet. It was strange. They all sat at their desks and stared at me, not acting out, but also not volunteering answers. We went through the vocab, we read the story. They looked bored. It was very easy material. They’d learned to read in kindergarten, but then when I asked them the comprehension questions they struggled to come up with answers for even the simplest one. So the lesson content was way to easy, but the children’s speaking ability was so far behind they could not keep up.
The third hour of material was to be condensed to 30 minutes as a result of my time blunder. The topic was social studies, but it took way too long to teach, as the concepts we were supposed to be discussing were way to advanced for the student’s English level (remember how they struggled with a kindergarten level reading book?). That left us with only 30 minutes again in our last hour before the parents came in for a presentation of what we had learned that day!
I breathed a sigh of relief when my class was finally over. I had an hour long lunch break to recover, and then a two hour planning session before my next class. I rewrote everything for my next G1 class. Back to the drawing board.
My day ended with a two hour lesson with a group of beginner students. It seemed that Juan, the teacher who taught the class before me, did not have a very strict set of rules for his classroom. The children were not quiet or well behaved. I had the opposite problem from my morning class like. One little girl, named Arial, could not stay in her seat for longer than five minutes. She spent the class doing flips and rolls across the floor.
I did my best to get through all of the class content, but found I had to spend a good deal of my time establishing rules, and telling Arial off for biting my shoulder! Parent presentation time was even more stressful with this group of children then it had been with my morning class, mostly because I had no idea what the group might do. The parents seemed very unconcerned with their children’s wild behaviour, and largely ignored it as I struggled to get our practiced sentences out of the group.
It had been a long day of work. Finally released to go home. Nate and I decided to look for a good place to eat dinner. I asked some local girls if they could help us, and suddenly I had a girl linked on both arms. The led me down the street, with Nate following behind, giggling and chatting to each other, and then trying to translate what they were staying into English for me. Their efforts made them giggle more.
The restaurant the girls brought us to was a tiny place with only a few tables and a few things on the menu, they told us it was very good, so we took their word for it. A hot bubbly dish was being brought out to another customer. It looked delicious, so Nate pointed to it when the waiter came to ask us what we wanted. The dish was a bubbling broth with chunks of chicken and a bowl of rice to go with it. It was tender, perfectly cooked chicken. The sauce was full of spice and flavour. The chicken had bones in it (which was something we had encountered, and struggled with how to eat in the past) but big bones and the chunks of meat were easy to get off. It was one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had in my life.