Open House

We had our English Open House today, finally!  Since it was on a Saturday, not that many students showed up but it was still a good show.  My babies class didn’t run like our normal classes; all the kids were super shy and hesitant to participate but a few of them got into it, they just didn’t sing along like they normally do but we got a couple laughs out of the parents.

My 3 year olds were wonderful, all dressed in super cute outfits and all participated and sang loud and clear, probably my best class.  And my 4 year olds were great too; I was a little worried at first because only a handful showed up but they all knew the vocabulary and sang along and had a good time.  Some of them wanted to joke around and hold up the wrong color etc. but overall it was successful.  I made some little gifts for them and handed them out at the end, mostly flashcard booklets or bookmarks and lollypops, which got me a group hug in the end.  I am really going to miss these little ones.

And after all the hard work it was definitely worth it to help this school out.  The teachers and aides are wonderful women who have a tough job but their students have grown into well behaved little learning machines.  And I think once the school gets through some of their growing pains that inevitably come with a new school, then they will be well on their way to teaching Mandarin, English and Spanish in a nice little environment.  I hope they succeed.

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Computers

Computer class can always get a little crazy, especially when you have 18 students and only 5 computers; eventually they will learn to share.  But teaching a computer class in English to young Spanish speakers can be super beneficial to these kids in the future.  Many affordable software programs aren’t duel language or have any translation at all.  On the other hand there are a lot that do, and with the way technology evolves I’m sure the glitches in translated software will lessen rapidly over the years.  Either way teaching computers in English is a good vehicle to learning a new language because you are exercising your brain in a different way while it is ingesting new vocabulary.

The school i am working at currently offers computer classes from ages 3-8 all in English.  I teach the younger learners 3-5.  The classes are large but the children are learning to share and take turns which is an important skill so we’re working with it, but split classes would be ideal.

I wish I had this position since the beginning of the year because computers are my thing and I really could have done a lot.  But since I am a mid year transplant the kids were already programmed to specific ways of learning; i have been altering this a bit and teaching new skills but this is just an extra-curricular class and I only have so much time.  The computers also need a lot of tender loving care and I don’t have the time to fix all of the problems, although I have fixed a lot but you make do with what you got.

Here is a good website if you need some free mouse skill games for your young learner classes:Internet4classrooms This site is great for teaching crucial mouse skills without letting it be boring.  It provides a list of other free sites with mouse skill games and some of those sites have more to offer.  If you have older classes, there are also different types of computer games if you search around the main site.

Another program that is great is Zoodles.  Whether you are a teacher or a parent you can download Zoodles onto your computer, you still need an internet connection but they offer a wide variety of games, some using mouse skills other just keyboard skills (which I found hard to find for free).  The software also follows the child’s progress and offers books, drawing etc. not just games.  Eventually I’ll compile a list of some useful free computer skills sites I can vouch for.  Meanwhile check these two out, they’ve been a great start.

The school also just bought a new SmartBoard, one for the computer room for all the teachers to use and the other is in the eldest kids classroom.  So soon I will be experimenting with new touch screen programs and sites and I will post any useful material I find.

Good Days

Today was a good day at work.  Good days recharge you and give you your spirit back.  Sometimes one good day will last you a month.  It is hard work teaching the very young, it can drain you but it is so rewarding when you see your hard work is paying off.

I put the open house on the back burner this week.  Maybe I should be drilling them on the vocabulary since we are getting videotaped next week but I think they need a break; I need a break. Plus, Monday went terrible.   So we had some fun today.

My 4 yr olds are learning to count in English so I set up a scavenger hunt for them in the classroom.  They had to find cut-outs I had made of cats and fish.  When they collected them all each student had to count theirs for the class, the student with the most won an animal cracker.  They loved it so we played it over and over again but I set it up outside on the playground while they sat obediently in the classroom.  It was amazing I never thought they could sit still and quiet for even 2 minutes but they were great.  A couple of them tried to peek but it was all fun. In the end they all won an animal cracker for participating.  After the scavenger hunt we sang a couple songs and class was over.

My next class (the 3 yr olds) I was going to try a game I do with the older kids, where we pass a bag around the room full of our vocabulary flashcards and when the music stops the student with the bag has to pick a card and name it.  Instead of demoing it like I usually do, I had the national teacher translate for me but it didn’t quite turn out how I planned but we went with it.  They danced around to the music while I held the bag and when the music stopped they all shouted the flashcards name.  They loved it so we kept going.  I tried to get them to pass the bag around but it got a little out of hand so I ended up holding on to it.  We did this for about 10 flashcards and then class continued as normal.

My baby class is getting tougher because I don’t have help anymore; I think the teacher is trying to help me gain authority maybe but I only have a month left and it is just making things difficult.  So I talked to her today so we could switch up the classes.  I have the babies everyday but on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have them twice (40 min and 30min).  I have 10 babies so this can get crazy for one person.  So now 2 days out of the week I will have half the class one hour and the other half the next hour.  I’m excited for the change but we’ll see how it works out.

So things are going good.  But what I learned is you can’t just ask other people to help you out.  You have to make things happen yourself.  People may say they will do this or that to help you but it may not happen.  You have to be the go to guy from the beginning.

Ranting…

I absolutely love the kids I work with, even the trouble makers.  They’re all good kids, full of so much life and love, and just want to have fun.  This is my third month at the school, I think the kids are finally ok with having a new teacher; they have accepted me, it only took 3 months.  So now I have their attention (for the most part).  I can now teach them the very disciplined way the school wants me to teach them during this time crunch to the open house.

If you are ever faced with a situation like mine; joining a school more than halfway through the year with tons of unknowns and hesitation from the students, take heart there is hope.  Although it is a struggle, the children open up more with time.  It has been hard for me because the school is demanding impossibilities; because the children just aren’t able to handle the changes as fast as the administration would like.

Don’t give up.  There are a lot of schools out there that won’t care as much about the students as you will.  You develop a relationship with your students they come to trust you, and if you leave them mid-year it is very hard for them to accept someone new, to trust someone new.  But if you are that new person, don’t give up on them; they are only hesitant because they are scared of losing you too.

Teach what you can, even if the administration is making ridiculous demands of you.  And I must say rewards are a huge help.  I stayed away from using candy as a reward for good behavior, even though all the teachers were doing this.  It worked fine without it in one of my classes but in the other two I must say candy as a reward is miraculous.  But use it sparingly.  In one class I have a board with all the students’ names and the days of the week.  If a student is good during my class they get a star for the day, if they are bad no star.  On Friday the students with stars all week will receive a candy.  It works more or less.  One tip tho if you make a poster like this use their pictures next to their names or they won’t understand it at this age level (2-5).

Anyway, I was supposed to have my “dress rehearsal” for open house today (rescheduled from last week), but it didn’t happen.  The administration didn’t show again.  I feel I shouldn’t have to remind them the day of, especially since they kept mentioning it during the week.  The kids were great today anyway, so I think we’re doing ok even without the help and critique.

I wish all schools, the admins etc. cared more about their students and teachers or rather  just showed it by paying more attention, visiting classes, had more one on ones with students and teachers.  If the higher ups were more of an active presence then it would be a greater learning environment.  And no one would care how shitty they are getting paid…well maybe.

Stood up

So…I didn’t have my “dress rehearsal” for the open house today.  No one showed up (meaning faculty). Surprisingly, today it went ok without an audience.  Fridays are sometimes easier because the kids are in the swing of things, they know by Friday that they need to behave and listen and learn.  With this age level every week is like starting all over again.

You would think Fridays would be the worst since they are looking forward to the weekend, but it is usually the best day.  Today some of my kids even asked for homework!

Due to bad scheduling we are going to have the “rehearsal” sometime next week (hopefully).

In the end it worked out ok because I’ve been sick for weeks and today I was really dragging.  I could use some rest before we put on our “show” for the school.

Pressure

I wish we didn’t have this open house coming up because having  to meet certain expectations for this show  is really  killing my teaching style.  I noticed that when I started the kids were learning a lot from making crafts and coloring vocabulary. The kids even admitted that all they want to do is color like any other 3-5 yr old.  They would still learn vocabulary and have fun but I can’t really have them color for the open house so I have to continue with the routines but at the same time I have to come up with different ways of making the same thing (unit) interesting.   It’s definitely keeping me busy during  and after school.  I guess even though it is stressful, I am learning a lot and developing new teaching techniques.

Tomorrow we have a run through for the open house; one of my classes is definitely ready but the other 2 have been hard to manage so tomorrow may be crazy.  We’ll see what the boss has to say.

Day by day, week by week

I have been at the school now for a little over a month.  The kids are mellowing out a bit and respecting my authority a little more. Class 2 is still great and I have developed a routine with them and am confident that this class will be ready for the open house.   I have good days and bad days with the babies.  They like to go crazy so sometimes it is hard to get them to sit in a circle or to do anything.   I think having an open house for the babies is a little crazy just because they want it to last for an hour.  The babies can barely put up with a 30 min English class, so a lot of the open house may just be lil babies running around like crazy while I sing songs in English.  Class 3 is getting better.  I really like the kids in this class, they have so much personality and spunk but man they can get wild.  However,  they have been cooperating more.  I  created posters of certain units; a park scene and a neighborhood scene.  I also made foam cut outs of certain vocabulary like animals and buildings that the kids can paste into the scene.  I use this during each of my classes and the kids love putting the characters on the posters.   Day by day we are making progress.