Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good golly! I'm a teacher! (Day 455)

We are in the early days of the new school year here in the village.  Students (and their parents) are still wandering in to register for school.  And me?  Well, I came back prepared to teach 1st-6th grades with some ideas about what I'd do with preschool and kindergarten.  However, I received quite a surprise.

Upon arriving for the teachers' meeting on Monday, I was informed that I would be teaching 7th to 9th grade as well...alone.  Last year, I helped another teacher from time to time as well as individually taught 3 periods.  However, the school decided to let her go for reasons which I won't go into in this journal.  Fortunately, I had offered a series of English learning books that I have to the other teacher as curriculum for this year.  So, implementing the curriculum myself won't be too hard.  Unfortunately, the problem I dealt with last year was teaching the students without knowing what they had and hadn't learned.  Therefore, I stuck to mostly simple topics with a heavy focus on pronunciation.  Now that I will have the students 100% of the time, I need to evaluate where they are at in their English studies, at least on a written basis.  And while I have classes planned out for the 7th graders (assuming no or very little previous education of the language), I need to pre-test the 8th and 9th graders before I can make plans for them which means that I will have about 1 day to review their pre-exams, find some sort of happy medium between the top students and the bottom students in each grade, and plan an entire year's worth of lessons.  I know that to some teachers that might sound a little unnecessary, but for me, if I don't plan the whole year (or at least three of our four terms) now, I'll allow the students to drag in their lessons telling myself, "Well, I didn't have anything planned for next week yet; so they can just continue this then."  This would become a vicious cycle for me, and when I have to write exams, I would have very little to test them on which would result in a lot of points based on very little information.

Elementary school started this week, but as I'll be spending the next week in Zacapa translating for Children of the Americas, I'm not starting English classes officially until January 30th.  I'll have 3 morning periods (40 minutes each) with the elementary students in 3/4th and 5/6th grades on each of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  The 1/2nd graders will receive English on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the Preschoolers/Kindergarteners will receive English on Tuesdays.  Monday afternoon, I'll have 1 period (30 minutes each) with each of the basico (middle school) grades.  Tuesday afternoons, I will have 1 period with the 8th graders, and 2 periods with each of the 7th and 9th grades.  And then on Wednesday afternoons, I will have 2 periods with each of the 7th and 9th graders and 3 periods with the 8th graders.  (I could have had 2 each Tuesday and Wednesday, but the social studies teacher didn't want to leave a half hour later on Tuesday or come in a half an hour earlier on Wednesday. Yes, that was a co-worker grumble. Making a schedule isn't very easy, and to be completely fair, my class would still be interrupted by recess even if he would switch; so the 2 periods together wouldn't be a reality anyway.)

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