Sunday, April 22, 2007

Making a difference?

One of the cool things about teaching after many months is that I can really see a change in the kids I teach- some in general (they can say more stuff now) but most of the students respond well if you make an effort with them, whether it's changing their seat so they're sitting next to someone who can help them or giving them some extra personal attention. Which is easier said than done since I'm teaching about 200 kids. But sometimes I can.

I have this one class that I just love- they've been learning English for about 3 1/2 years, and the class is set up so that for the first hour you're just kind of shooting the breeze- they learn new words and read passages and talk about them. And they just love to talk, and always come up with funny things to say. And when we play a game or have to do hard stuff in the second hour, they are always so cooperative and try hard. I have another class at about the same level who are the opposite- they never talk, they never have fun, they just sit there and sulk.

Every class has a few kids who are really smart and work hard, and some who are either smart or hard-working, and then a bunch of other kids of varying ability. At the end of each level we give prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for best grades, and then you can give awards for 4th and 5th place, or give awards for best effort or most improvement or whatever. Now that I know the kids better I like to do that because otherwise the same kids always get prizes, and it's kind of demotivating.

In this fun class there's a girl named Lisa who isn't too smart and just really seemed to have given up at the beginning of the level. She wouldn't do half her homework and a lot of times she would just sit there and not do the exercises and be like "I don't know how." It was really frustrating and I was kind of mean to her, but I tried to explain stuff to her and once I stayed after class to help her a little. Her grades improved a little but I felt like she really made an effort in the second half of the level- she paid attention in class and always tried and just seemed to have fun. So the CT and I decided to give her an award for Most Improved. You could tell all the kids (including Lisa) were just shocked that she would get an award. After class she was like, "Thank you, teacher," and she had tears in her eyes! I was so happy!

Because of vacation and stuff I didn't teach them for the first few lessons in their new level- the first one I did was a quiz. So I reviewed and told them that the vocabulary section was worth a lot, and if they didn't know a word they should write something down and take a guess and I'd give them some credit. So Lisa leaves all but one vocab word blank and just completely bombs the rest of the test- she got a 24 (out of 100) and I was being as generous as I could with the grading. And on the make-up quiz she got like a 50. Grrr!!!


Lucy said...

That little girl is so cute!
My eyes were filled with tears too when hers did.

By the way, when do you come back?

Taiwan-Teacher said...

My contract is up December 1. Probably I will travel around Asia a little bit first, but I will likely be in the USA early 2008. You will be a college student then! Crazy, eh?

Lucy said...

Are you going to travel alone? Where do you want to go?
Yeah, I will be in college! And not only that, I will be living in a new apartment too!