First Day at work

Hi there :slight_smile:

Ok so today was my first day of work (well i say day but it was only from 1.40 - 5.10pm). I didn’t know what i would be teaching until 10 minutes before the start when i was given the teaching schedule and informed about which books are used, how many in the class, age etc.

Which is fine as its my first day, ok. Two classes (40 minute classes)i have early afternoon with the same group of kids in both and they are quite hrmm rambunctious lets say. They are fun as well but to my fault i need to manage them better because they were quite noisy. I realise i can deal with this with just being better prepared and having more games to keep them interested. So i can do that ok.

The second two classes are much more sedate, bigger classes and more structure, students are a bit older as well. However as an example, today in one class - i gave them 5 words and they constructed a story. To help them i gave them sample sentences in which the words are used (i of course made sure they understood each of the words). When i was checking their work later, i found some of them had stuck very close to my sample sentences on the board. Some had not so that was good, and some showed very impressive (imo) english written ability considering their level (beginning elementary).

The class after this was about getting them to understand how to paraphrase text and put it in your own words. I wrote a story on the board and then paraphrased text underneath. Mine was shorter and more condensed. I spent a while talking to the students about the difference between the two so they understood what i had done (rewritten the text to be more concise but contain the same overrall meaning).

However, when i asked them to re-write the text they all just copied my sentences. I was concerned that they hadn’t understood me but they replied in class that they did understand the meaning of changing the text to make it simpler. (i cant really use any big words to communicate this as they are basic elementary level).

I spoke to another teacher and he said that it can be quite common for the kids to just repeat what you are doing instead of thinking for themselves. I have another lesson on this area tomorrow so i think i will enforce the idea of getting THEM to do it themselves and not me.
If they don’t do it themselves then how do i really know they understood. If i do rewrite a passge on the board tomorrow, i will wipe it off very quickly so they MUST do a rewrite themselves. This sounds ok yeah?

It was quite a hectic day - classes never started on time but everyone is very friendly, free dinner there as well :slight_smile: - i am wondering if this is for me. That is, if teaching is for me. Perhaps i am too used to the idea of doing work and then going home and work is out of mind. With this job i can’t do that. I have 4 classes per day so i need to prepare for each of them (except for tomorrow where i have just 1). Granted i think some classes will need less preparation but maybe it is the principle of it. I dunno i am just examining myself i guess.

Thoughts?

[quote=“FarFlungScot”]However, when i asked them to re-write the text they all just copied my sentences. I was concerned that they hadn’t understood me but they replied in class that they did understand the meaning of changing the text to make it simpler. (i cant really use any big words to communicate this as they are basic elementary level).

I spoke to another teacher and he said that it can be quite common for the kids to just repeat what you are doing instead of thinking for themselves.[/quote]
And this is quite universal here, the product of an educational system that does everything it can to crush original thinking out of kids.

Try to think of your students as blank slates. Don’t expect [strike]too[/strike] much from them when it comes to creating sentences from scratch. It is wise to remember that the majority of elementary level kids do not have a whole lot of spare English vocabulary in their brains that they can pull from to express their own ideas freely. They could certainly do it in Chinese. That is why they tell you they understand, yet copy what you write or say. If you expect them to express themselves freely, you need to “plant the seeds of ability”. That is to say, broaden their vocabulary a lot. At their age, they are not ready to do such complex tasks that you are asking. They simply do not have enough resources to do it.

Don’t confuse teaching English here with teaching English to a native speaker. English is not their 1st language or 2nd language. Most of the time, school is their ONLY exposure.

Imagine a mechanic whose boss gave him a lesson on how to fix a car, he also gave him books on how to fix a car, but he didn’t give him any tools…maybe just a screwdriver. Along comes his boss and asks him why he isn’t fixing the car.The boss is dumfounded at first and keeps yelling at him “I showed you how, so why are you not doing your job?”, over and over and over again until he gets irate and fires him. :loco:
Sadly, many teachers are like the boss in this analogy. They expect from their students without providing the tools and the time for the students to become used to the tools.

It takes a while to adjust and adapt. Most whom end up teaching a while will ask the same question starting out. Some find out within a few months or sooner that it’s definitely not for them. Nothing wrong with that. Keep an open mind and don’t think to much the first few months, besides focusing on what you need to do to teach the the best you can. After you settle in you’ll have a better idea if you’re really cut out for it. And even if you end up liking it, or at least feel better about doing it, that will probably change after a few years.

The book (comprehension plus level b))we are using seems to be quite high level i thought. There is a large paragraph which the students have to read then rewrite in their own words (same meaning etc) and in my opinion it is quite difficult… Thats what i’m supposed to do tomorrow but i think i will try to get them to approach this in more biteable chunks.

I can do worksheets with two columns. On one side is original sentences and on the other the sentence rewritten but with the same meaning. I will get them to do matching up. I can talk them through a couple of them.

I agree…hrmmm. I think one of the other teachers said they are quite flexible with regard to what you teach from the book as long as the students understand.

I hope so, because everything else is mostly positive about living here (small grumbles i can put up with).

[quote=“FarFlungScot”]

I hope so, because everything else is mostly positive about living here (small grumbles i can put up with).[/quote]

That’s likely to change in a few years too :smiley: Sorry, that’s a bit negative. But I run across a lot of negativity

If you ask your students to do too much on their own, you’re either not going to last long, or you’ll soon have an extra ulcer or two.

First of all, they likely CAN’T do much on their own because they don’t yet have enough language skills or enough vocab. This is because the way language is taught in Taiwan is asinine, but that’s a discussion for another day, and one that’s been had many times on these fora.

Secondly, even in their regular schools, thinking isn’t taught–answers are. I had a child in that school system, and I taught in that system. Trust me. So they won’t be expecting to have to think for themselves and asking them to will cause stress for them and for their parents who will complain to the school.

They expect English class to be FUN. They want to enjoy themselves. If the enjoy themselves, they’ll want to come back, mom and dad will keep paying, and you will be thought of as a popular “teacher” even if you don’t feel much like that’s what you’re doing. Go over the material in the book. Ask them to say the new vocab/sentence structure over and over again. Then work these things into today’s games. That’s about it. You can make the writing a game, too.

If you let it be that easy, life will be easy, you’ll get paid, you’ll enjoy your life, find a pretty girl to spend time with, and drink too much of your salary to fill that empty void in your soul that keeps nagging at you that you’re not really DOing anything that’s WORTH anything. If you care too much about your job, you’re going to feel like you’re pounding your head against a wall for five or six hours a day, the pretty girl will get tired of listening to you complain about life in Taiwan, and you’ll drink even more because it takes a lot of alcohol to numb the pain.

At least, this is usually the way it goes. Good luck to you.

How to do teach paraphrasing and make it fun wasnt easy. Today for the first part of the lesson i read a story from the workbook and had them read it as well - then tried to get them to answer a couple of questions with limited success. As i was talking to one student i am sure another student said something about me (the teacher) that wasnt complimentary (in chinese of course but i had a feeling it wasnt singing my praises)…i only saved the lesson (according to them i guess) because we had a fun stickyball game after (the best ending as i lost haha).

We are supposed to do 1 page from the workbook a day, though other teachers have told me dont worry about it taking longer.

There is a distinct lack of guidance and direction…we are kinda left to it. I did say to the director i hadn’t taught kids before so will take me longer to get up to speed. She just leaves me to get on with things i guess (which is good i suppose) but i dont think she realises that i kinda need the workbooks in advance so i can prepare the next days lessons. The school doesnt have a lot of materials either - hardly any flashcards as well. They have a small whiteboard (but not much space if i want to write a few things). In one lesson i wasnt sure i taught anything but the students sure had fun…

Again, paraphrasing is a SKILL and it requires THINKING, and doing it in a foreign language requires enough of that language to express oneself in more than one way. Your students CANNOT do this. Could you paraphrase a children’s story in Mandarin? Your expectations are misplaced.

You are NOT teaching English. You are “teaching” a second language through entertainment.

Now you’re catching on.

Again, paraphrasing is a SKILL and it requires THINKING, and doing it in a foreign language requires enough of that language to express oneself in more than one way. Your students CANNOT do this. Could you paraphrase a children’s story in Mandarin? Your expectations are misplaced.

You are NOT teaching English. You are “teaching” a second language through entertainment.

Now you’re catching on.[/quote]

okeydokey… :slight_smile:

Just checking here…as i dont have a yardstick or anything. Is 2 1/2 hours preparation for 4 x 40 minute lessons about right?

Get a picture from the newspaper. Have students identify 5 or so words from the picture. Then let students describe the pic without using the 5 words by “paraphrasing”. That’s a nice way to get them started.

For a first time teacher, your prep time does sound right. As mine was about the same length as the class. It will get less as you will have taught the same lesson many times over however you may have to adjust your plans to suit the class. The lack of clear guidelines can be a drawback.

For me now, the most rewarding moments are actually the ones outside the classroom when a student talks to me in English. Congratulations and hang in there.

this is the range of emotions i go through :smiley:

Before class (or night before class) - "“argh im gonna quit…i cant handle this crazy preparation…”

During grade 1 class " aargh why do they not listen…when will this chaotic madness end"

During afternoon class grade 3 i think "argh why do they not listen but mostly “haha they love this game lol”
e.g. Bingo today was a hit - crazy as it was really simple.

After class but still at school “this isnt too bad”

Being told that tomorrow is a HOLIDAY “fuckin awesome woohoo!”

I was on the ropes in the 75th minute of the grade 1 class…2 of them are super disruptive. we played a pass the parcel type game earlier and it went well until one of the kids hurt his finger a TINY bit and was crying. And of course when there is arguments between each other. i try to get them to say sorry to each other but they babble away in chinese to each other and one of them usually goes in a huff not wanting to play anything…kids ehh!

They are definitely the hardest 80 minutes with grade 1. Trying to keep them entertained and i see them 4 times a week.

At the moment i treat it like the Rocky 2 fight and just trying to survive another round without quitting haha

Good idea thanks. Will see if i can find an english newspaper.

Good idea thanks. Will see if i can find an english newspaper.[/quote]
It doesn’t have to be an English paper. You just need the picture.

[quote=“Matchstick_man”]For a first time teacher, your prep time does sound right. As mine was about the same length as the class. It will get less as you will have taught the same lesson many times over however you may have to adjust your plans to suit the class. The lack of clear guidelines can be a drawback.

For me now, the most rewarding moments are actually the ones outside the classroom when a student talks to me in English. Congratulations and hang in there.[/quote]

So heres a question that mustve been asked before: why the hell be a teacher lol.

My prep time is same or more than my teaching time but i dont get paid for it. So every day after “work” i still work for another 3 hours. Annoying lol. I will see how it goes for this month whether i improve or if i can handle doing that much unpaid work.

Taiwan ehh gotta love it… so i spent a ton of time preparing and haha soon as i get in the door the director tells me she change all the schedule and what class and lesson i am today wtf… haha… it was then i kinda had a realization…i aint doing 3 hour preparation sorry i just won’t. I will put a list of diverse games together and update it every so often.

i had to think on my feet a lot today (which im usually not good at) but it went good - i created a completely new game which i call Shark Attack… it was a science lesson so after i read to them, told them about whales and dolphins etc i got them to draw on the whiteboard everything that is in the sea (ships, man, dolphins, whales, other fish) This kept them fairly amused no worries.

then …shark attack

Shark Attack is fairly simple game.

In one corner is the home of the dolphins, in one corner is the home of the whales. I make half the students dolphins and half whales. The middle of the room is the open sea…where the sharks get ya! I’m the shark :slight_smile:
So i play some music…they all “swim / dance” in the open sea and when i stop the music me the shark rushes to catch them. They all run for home. If i catch one i carry them off to be eaten haha and that student sits out for a bit. I modified it so that some i had eaten also became Sharks and helped me catch and eat the other dolphins and whales.

Great fun :smiley: