Tuesday, March 23, 2010

teacher training, day 2: holy crap, I'm gonna die

Maybe not so dramatic, but I am feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately it's not just me, there's a group to share the experience with (more on that later, because it relates, as everything does, to Buddhist practice), and I'm not even the most overwhelmed. I can feel my shutting-down sleepiness that comes when I don't want to deal with something; but I have many years of training in working past it and staying engaged and in contact with what's going on, and that's critical to this entire adventure.

Tonight we did (some are still doing) our first complete Lesson Plan, which is one half of the Things That Will Save Your Ass In The Classroom. The other half is your Classroom Management Plan, which is the other reason everyone is feeling overwhelmed. It's a lot of information, but we're also heading into a school system that is alien at best. Of last year's 22 volunteers, everyone agreed that Allyson, our Field Director, had the worst class section: one kid jumped out a window (first floor, but still), and another time a kid answered a question and then casually hit another kid in the face with a chair. On the plus side, there are levers like taking cell phones (negative) and Frugele, for which they seem to have an irrational affinity. It's a lot to take in in two hours in a warm room.

WorldTeach has a Lesson Plan Template that helps a lot, where you write in the objective for the lesson and then work backwards. I actually feel really prepared from having spent those 17 hours or so watching the Advanced Beginner ESL class at the adult school: I've seen the different stages of an ESL lesson, and I know from excruciating experience how long everything takes. (Think 20 minutes to introduce 7 new vocabulary words, or 15 minutes to explain and model the directions for an activity.) I'm finding that with the guidance and the training, once my head was immersed in the material, ideas started flowing about how to generate the kind of experience that would lead to students learning the material. Not that they were all good ideas, but they were there.

Our schedule will probably be to see these kids once a week for 45 minutes. (Later, I'll write in detail about the very exciting Chilean school system.) That's not a ton of time, either for learning or building relationships. On the other hand, it usually means writing just one lesson plan per week, and presumably getting really good at it as we teach it one or two dozen times and adapt it for different levels.

So, yes. I'm not actually going to die. I'm really not even likely to fail, overall, though some crashing and burning seems inevitable. But as we get closer and closer to actually running a classroom, clarity and calm about that isn't always the dominant feeling.Link

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