21 September 2012

Diary of an ALT: Teaching

Well if  you've followed my instructions you should have semi-successfully made it to school and introduced yourself to everyone. Now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty, the reason you're actually there, the whole point of your flying thousands of miles (aside from the life changing adventure that is): teaching English. Depending on your contract you could have one or two hundred to nearly a thousand students in total. Don't let this scare you, just don't bother trying to memorise any names. 
There will be classes you will hate with the inevitable cheeky little brats who have no interest in English and feel a profound need to mock you at every turn to their friends. The best (read petty and childish) way to deal with them is to approach them in tasks and ask them questions. They will always be embarrassed when they don't know the answer. Vindictive, mean Ciara: 1 Pre-pubescent snot: 0.
Of course there are the students who literally vibrate and jump with excitement when they see you stroll in to class. These kids will make the job worthwhile. Without them it would be a thankless slog. I have a class that constantly ask their teacher when I'm coming back and run to the English room when I'm there laughing and screaming. What did I do to deserve their like except turn up on time and teach the same lesson every other one of my schools gets? I'm almost as excited as they are when it's time to teach in that school. They play with me at recess and share their lunch with me at break time. I guess I'm still a big kid at heart. And a freakin' popular one at that.
In order to be a good teacher (or to fake being one) you must:
  • Smile constantly. This is difficult on days when you'd much rather be in bed with a cake and a good book but when you accidently lock eyes with a quiet or shy kid and smile at them and they beam back you just know you've made them like English that little bit more.
  • Get to know your classes. You can't be the hilarious, mad-cap, looney toon in every class. Some kids just aren't in to it. Contrary to what they beat into you at training you don't need to be a ball of English based energy in every class. Some classes are more laid back and it's ok for you to be too.
  • Not be afraid to bring your own ideas to school. Some teachers will look at you aghast in horror if you suggest deviating from the lesson plan in the book while some will look like you've just made their day and step back and let you do everything.
  • Be patient. Or on the flipside learn to hide your impatience behind your constant, psychotic smile.
    Also it helps if you like kids and/or teaching. (Source)

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Maira Gall