This is my first week of teaching (our weeks here Tuesday through Saturday). I taught for the first time on August 1st - a Saturday - and overall everything went smoothly. The first class was three 5-6 yr olds who were good. Despite my forgetting what to do and moving too slowly, they were well behaved. Last week when I observed the class, one of the kids had a drooling issue (drool just kept pouring out of his mouth like an uncontrollable fountain; the more he liked the lesson, the more he drooled) but he kept it in check on Saturday for me. The week before he had drooled on the flashcards.
Then I had a class of eleven year old boys. There was a smart one; a boy who might cry (as I discovered last week); another smart boy; and a slower boy. I loved this class. These boys are funny and overall smart and just nice. When The Crier cried during my observation, the others tried to help him or politely ignored him so he didn't feel worse. Cool kids. For my first lesson, the crier was absent and the other three were great. My favorite moment was when I had them asking me question to practice English. They were sticking to the standards "What's your name?" "Where do you live?" "Do you like green peppers?" and so on because they weren't used to the game (each question you ask correctly, you get a point - easy). The boys soon ran out of questions and there was silence. Then the slowest one smiled, looked at me, and asked "Do you have an elephant?" - everyone laughed and I gave him two points. Making a joke in English? Love it.
After the boys was another class of 5-6 year olds. All girls and a boy and they behaved for me although the boy can be bad. Then I taught a class of four 4-5 year olds (a boy tried to pull down another boy's pants!). They are way behind the other students their age. There are twins who hit each other, a boy who is smart but can misbehave, and a 4 year old girl who is quiet. Sigh. To contrast them, I have a private lesson with a 5 year old girl after; my last class of the day. She is wonderful. While the previous class struggled with the alphabet and numbers 1-10, she can look at a card and say "There are two blue rectangles" or "The cat is going up the stairs". She's so great I'd forget she's only five, until I mixed the cards together in a silly way, or made a shocked noise because a flashcard was upside down, causing her to laugh hysterically. Cute kid, and nice way to end a Tuesday.
BUT moving on to today. All of my classes were back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back (that's right, 5 of 'em). Things started with a bang. I had a group of 3 year olds and two cancelled. The third was a no-show. SWEET - I must say I was fabulous, teaching a class of zero :-) Class number two was a private lesson for a smart 5 year old boy. Think the 5 year old girl from my last Saturday class, but not quite as brilliant. Still smart, and fun to play games with.
Then disaster struck.
The third class (my absolute favorite during observation) was two 3 year olds, a quiet girl and a crazy little boy. When I observed them last week, they were wonderful. The boy can misbehave a bit but was totally into the songs. The old teacher played the alphabet song and the two were up and dancing in their own little worlds out of excitement, even before the singing started. Today, not so much. The boy would have none of it.
I walk into the classroom and the girl is being shy. She's not used to me but thankfully she warms up quickly. The boy is bouncing off the walls. I play the standard Hello Song and while the adorable girl does the motions and sings along, the boy literally runs back and forth across the room doing laps and slamming himself into the walls. If I weren't teaching, it would have been hysterical. Then the boy runs out of the classroom. I had made it to the Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes song and I left the girl so I could go get the boy, who was with the manager in the waiting area. Thankfully no one else (like a parent) was there to see this. Well I grab the boy under my arm like a sack of potatoes and carry him back into the classroom. I walk back in and there is the girl, staring at the wall, doing Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes by herself. Singing along, happy as can be, staring at nothing and singing. She's doing the motions too. HYSETERICAL (and sad). Clearly she doesn't need me. I restart the song, keep hold of the boy, and muddle through. The boy didn't stop running or talking (in Japanese) or squirming or pulling or kicking the whole class. And the girl did every bit of the lesson perfectly, by herself. Imagine me chasing a little boy around while a little girl goes through a routine alone. She did the I'm a Little Teapot song by herself while I held the boy in my lap. It was a circus. She even knew opposites and sat there saying "Stong, weak, strong, weak" and making muscle-arms while I ignored her and held the boy upside down. Someone should film this.
The rest of the day was fine. Another class of four boys, 3rd and 4th grade, and only three showed up. Then a private lesson with a 7 year old boy had a make-up student, and the two were great together. One of the activities is to read off a list of commands ("Fly!" "Jump" "Point to the window!" "Touch your toes!") and the students act them out. The advanced students also add "I'm jumping!" or "I'm touching my toes" as they mime. I let these two take turns being teacher and command me and the other student, which they got a kick out of. A good way to end the day.
I should point out that earlier, I had done other commands with the two three year olds (the quiet girl and the energetic boy).
"Ride a bike!" I said. The girl pretended to ride a bike. The boy ran in circles at full speed around the room.
"Swim!" I said. The girl pretended to swim. The boy ran head first into the wall.
"Point to the door!" I said. The girl pointed to the door. The boy opened it and ran out.
I'll have to figure out how to deal with my "favorites" next week. Maybe I'll let the girl lead herself in her own lesson while I take the boy to a track and time him running around it.
Tomorrow I have an easy series of lessons with kindergarteners and then one middle school class and one adult class. The middle schoolers are so afraid to be in class that they shake, but more on that later. Hope you enjoy reading about my struggling teaching career. More on everything else non-teaching later.