So Friday, we were told that those of us teaching at the school True Vision would have our room assignment by the end of the day. I was okay with that. That meant we’d have the weekend to brainstorm ideas for our very first class.
Friday night still no room assignment.
Saturday night, no room assignment.
Sunday one of my classmates sent an email asking if our room assignment had come in.
Monday morning, seven of us loaded up two Tuk Tuks and started the trek to True Vision without any idea of what age group we were teaching. True Vision has students that range from preschool to sixth grade.
We get to the office and we all started to relax a little. The kids playing in the courtyard are older, about seven and eight, and that was what we had planned for. Excellent.
Then the True Vision staff split us up.
On the other side of the office is another campus and that’s where myself and two others were led.
There in the courtyard, small children. Tiny children. Children significantly younger than the seven and eight year olds we had just left.
I have a class of four year olds. Preschool.
Tiny, tiny children.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, I had on my lesson plan and none of the stuff we had discussed in our teaching course was meant for children this young. I asked them to write their names on a sheet of paper and draw a picture from their favorite story. The TA had to help three of the six spell their names. I had thought it wouldn’t be that bad, six students, I can wing this. I’ll think of something.
8:20, eight more students come through the door. I have fourteen four year olds and nothing on my lesson plan will work.
I tried to modify one of the games I had. “Jungle Survival” What items do you take into the jungle? It didn’t work. Okay. What animals live in the jungle? Elephants, fish, dogs, and cats. Okay, maybe not.
They demanded we sing a song. I don’t know any. I don’t like to sing and I sure as fuck can’t make up some bullshit diddly at the drop of a hat. So I asked them what songs they knew while staring at the clock waiting for it to hit 8:50 when I could release them to the courtyard.
So Monday was a clusterfuck of a different color. The only saving grace being that I was not observed and critiqued when everything fell apart and anarchy ruled no one but the TA had to see it.
Sickness has taken hold of my classmates. Two of them were too sick to teach, three of them probably should have stayed at the hotel, and four more were also green around the gills. I’m still feeling fine. And this time I have a goddamn plan.
This time we’re going to have rules and the students will tell me their names when they walk in.
This time we’re going to write the alphabet on the board in a board race.
This time we’re going to learn new words like “Elbow,” “Ankle,” “Wrist,” “Thigh,” and “Neck.”
This time we’re going to play a game at the end with our new vocabulary.
This time, four students came in at 8am when class starts and when I asked them to write their names on the board they couldn’t make the letters or spell them.
This time, the alphabet board race fell apart before it began. The concept of “teams” and “racing” still too complex in a non-native language so they just wrote letters on the board.
This time, we learned the word “Elbow”. Sort of.
This time, there was an observer watching me watch the clock waiting for it to hit 8:50.
But it wasn’t all bad. The observer said I need to be louder and use the students’ names. She said I need more examples of the words I’m using and I need to do more repetition. I need to put the words in a sentence, something they can use context clues to really figure out the word.
This time I am ready to rock and fucking roll. I have nametags, I have stickers, I have a goddamn plan.
This time I track down an attendance sheet and ask the kids to spell and point to their names while I write down their nametags.
This time we’re reviewing “Elbow” and learning “Ankle”, with pictures. I have examples and I have questions to drill them on understanding.
This time I have a game where they have to point to their elbows and ankles to get the point.
This time they’re going to spell the words.
This time my observer told me I did an excellent job on drilling and class flow and class management. This time the plan fucking worked.
One thought on “Adventures Abroad: Cambodia, Teaching Practice”
I love this on many levels. Kudos.