Thursday, December 21, 2006

My wild class
Wednesday night is my most crazy class- there are 20 of them which is a lot, and they have only been learning English for about 6 months. The first night I taught them of course I didn't know anything about them, and the second time I didn't remember, so I went in with all kinds of energy and a game that involved throwing a puppet around. Not good ideas. These kids beat on each other anyways so the game became, who can whale the puppet the hardest at their friend? Then we played a Go Fish game with pictures that represented vocab words (like robot, pencil box, etc). It is hard to explain a game in English to kids who don't speak much English. Some of them got it, but it quickly devolved into either wrestling each other for cards, or taking the whole deck and stacking them into piles of robots, etc, and then saying "Teacher, look!" But the point was to get them to practice sentence patterns ("Do you have any erasers?" etc).We had a quiz and when the kids are done with their quizzes they can just draw on the back of the test, and they were like "We want to draw the teacher!" and I was like fine. There is one older bad kid in the back and he started drawing the CT, Ben, and the face looked a lot like him so I said "Great job!" to encourage him. When I walked back a few minutes later he had kept the face but drawn this animal body with claws and hair and a big tail and fart lines coming out- it was really well-done but also really horrifying, it looked like one of the beasts of Revelation or something. Also really unexpected so of course I started cracking up. I had to leave the room to compose myself.
Later that night we did songs & chants and I had the kids stand up to sing. I was walking around to encourage the quieter kids to sing and as I did, all these kids started standing on the tables and kind of putting their hands on my shoulders and using me as a launching point to jump really high and try to touch the ceiling, then land on the floor. It's amazing how crazy these kids are, also how they can do stuff like that without injuring themselves.
Anyways, on Friday we had a training day and talked a lot about classroom management. Some things that I learned were to put things in positive versus negative terms- ie, say "Speak English!" instead of "No Chinese!" Also usually the class is split down the middle into 2 teams, and you give stars for random things- does this team have their books open? or if someone gives an answer- and instead of erasing a star as punishment for the bad team, give a star to the good team for being good, and tell them what they did well. And if a class is being too loud/ crazy, don't try to yell over them, just count to 3 and they will stop. And if the big bad kid wants to keep saying "Teacher Pigtina" but everyone is ignoring him, you can ignore him to0. Anyways, all of these things totally worked and made a world of difference.
Also, I thought about the games I played and realized they all had the kids interacting with each other instead of me, so I made some new games that were more teacher-centered and it really helped. They were still pretty crazy but in a more controlled way, and definitely learned more.
Finally, tonight I realized that at least 10 of the kids are really good. And so cute! We did this one exercise where you were supposed to survey people about what they eat for breakfast, lunch, etc, and what is their favorite food. It's a good exercise but hard for them not to speak Chinese because they don't necessarily know all the words. I was asking this one kid what he eats for breakfast and he was like "I eat... I eat..." and then pressed his lips together so he didn't say Chinese. Then he made this super-detailed drawing of a breakfast sandwich- first a top view, then bread + bacon + egg, all drawn out. He just really wanted to communicate. I know how he feels!

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