Wednesday, June 9, 2010

beer o'clock

Not really, since I rarely drink. But G and H were both solid handfuls today: I did manage to guide them into getting work done, and I didn't finish the day stressed out so much as mentally tired, because I'm working very hard to meet reality where it is, and with these particular classes, "reality" is two dozen scattered high school freshmen. It's like the first time at the library when I worked with the very tall 7-year old with the VERY ACTIVE MIND AND THEN I MADE A PAPER AIRPLANE AND I LIKE PLAYING SOCCER THERE'S A ROCKET ON THAT BOOK HOW OLD ARE YOU?

When Field Director Allyson observed my class a few weeks ago, she recommended cracking down on discipline more, which I've been doing, and I think it's been worthwhile. Yesterday I booted two kids from B: one I've booted before, and apparently he won't be returning to my class, and another teacher said the other has already signed a contract to behave, so...I'm not sure either of them will be around next semester.

"Disciplinarian Chris" is a new thing for me, and I've also experimented with purposefully producing moments of anger as a way of communicating my severe disapproval across the language and culture barriers. The strict disciplinarian role is not at all comfortable for me, and especially with the anger, reminding me too much of some of my least favorite moments with Dad growing up.

(To be clear, Dad is a fantastic guy and a great father. And parenting is hard, and Dad's remarkable patience had an explosive temper at the end of it.)

The anger experiments deserve their own post, I think.

Allyson did a number of awesome things during WorldTeach orientation, and among them was teaching us, the volunteers, the same way we were going to teach the students. In one exercise, she gave us fake-people cards, with fictional names, occupations, ages, and cities on them, and then we asked each other questions, like "What is your name?" and "Where are you from?". This is another way to de-personalize the class activity, which has a few benefits:

  • If you're doing something like "describe your house/family," you avoid pushing any emotional buttons around poverty or family deaths or whatever.
  • If you're doing introductions, kids can swap cards regularly as part of the activity, so they don't get bored with saying their own names all the time, and they can think of introductions as chunks of language separate from their own names.
  • It forces them to encounter and pronounce American proper names.
So far I've continued doing introductions with their real names, but I've been startled by how much more interested they are with the fake-people cards. It's a little contrived for them to introduce themselves to their classmates, with whom they spend eight hours a day in the same room. And even the indifferent ones have no idea how to say "Huntsville" or "Schwartz," and they want to know.

The most surprising part came during H, which was the same push-and-pull as G: Rodolfo, who's not jump-up-and-dance eager (he's 15, what do you want?) but does concentrate and work really hard, said, "Teacher, this is a good class."

I barely knew how to respond.

No comments:

Post a Comment