this whole teaching thing makes a lot more sense
25.06.2010 97 °F
You know those blank stares that accompany teaching? The ones that we have all given (mine usually in math classes) when a teacher looks at you expecting a response. I got a lot of those soul-crushing "huh?" stares last semester… in fact I'd go as far as to say that look was the constant in my class, sort of the visual soundtrack to my teaching. It is with great pleasure that I say to you, ladies and gentlemen, that this semester this look is a rarity. Well, maybe not quite a rarity, but you get the idea. The important thing to understand here is: TEACHING IS GOING SO MUCH BETTER. I attribute this to a number of things.
1) My classes are generally better behaved this time around. Where as I had a number of 'too cool for school' or just 'too cool for English' students last semester, the scheduling gods have bestowed upon me mainly 15-17 year old girls (and lady boys) who are for the most part incredibly eager to interact, if not so keen on the English speaking.
2) I have given up on the English-only in the classroom rule that was imposed at the beginning by my awful Thai and have since begun to use Thai in the classroom. Instead of spending 20 minutes attempting to explain that I want each student to write 5 sentences for homework (how do you act out 'sentence'?) and then what the sentences should be about… well, this just adds so much complication to my life and so much confusion to theirs. Now, classes just run so much more smoothly. I start in English, counter the blank stares with Thai explanations, making sure that not only do the students understand the vocabulary and concepts that I am teaching as well as what I expect from them. I also end up doing a lot more one on one explanations in Thai, actually teaching some of the slower students. I hope.
3) I have some idea of what works and what does not. I also have a better idea of just how much authority I have. Most of my students are first years who ask me how many years I have been in Thailand…there is no reason to let them in on the cover-up of the fact that I have only been doing this for a few months.
4) DTEC dollars. During one of the sessions Fulbright had for us in April, a wonderful woman named Fidelia introduced the concept of giving your classes a currency as part of a system of rewards. A combination of James' artwork and Lorcan's new motto of "Don't be shy," the English Department presents you with
THE DTEC DOLLAR.
For a school where most of the students have little to no motivation to study English, this has been an amazing tool. Speak English outside of the classroom? DTEC dollar. Volunteer for being the first to present something? DTEC dollar. Go above and beyond in any sort of English way? DTEC dollar. At the end of the semester, we'll hold an auction of sorts, similar to the Hendrix HEAT one, or maybe just turn our office into a little store where they can buy sweets and such with DTEC dollars. And so far, it seems to be working. The first day we introduced it, I was asked "Teacher! Have you eaten?" at least 7 times. It has moved our students from shouting "hello!" and hiding to potentially having a conversation. Either way, the whole school is talking to us, starting off with limited English and sliding into Thai after a few pat phrases. It’s cool, and some of the teachers seem to like it, too.
All of this translates into not only into a lack of dread of my classes, but also to me feeling like I am achieving something. I feel like I am actually a teacher.
So, to prepare you for the next post celebrating teacher day, check out the DTEC slideshow…