Meant to slip this in but forgot…
After the hostile take-over last Friday, on Monday I didn’t know WHAT to expect, so I prepared a quick emergency lesson just-in-case. When I got to class, there was no Mr. Lee, so I just started teaching, and then he showed up and the lesson was already in progress, so I have no idea what his plans were. BUT he seemed to be okay with the lesson and helped out a little. The rest of the week I found more and more ways to incorporate him, and I think he liked it, even though he didn’t execute it quite the way I meant him to. (instead of tossing the ball back and forth during the dialog with the student, he just tossed the ball and then the boys on his side of the room had tossed it around to each other and then the ball came up missing) BUT, at least he was talking with the boys about the questions and encouraging them to talk. So anyway, I think there might be hope.
The female co-teacher’s planned lesson went almost exactly as suspected and as I’d commented on before hand to her: she’d packed in waaaay too much and had to leave out one of the five sections she’d meticulously planned and timed. Of course, it was the portion with the most speaking. I think she has a rough idea what a communicative speaking lesson is supposed to entail but she spends way too much time teacher-talking to be able to work through her own lesson. For example, “and now it will be my turn to talk about this and that and I will do this and that.” (the kids can see that we’re taking turns) Because she had tried to piece together lessons from several different sources, it was lacking in cohesiveness even though it was about the same theme. I was also surprised to see how ineffective her own classroom management skills were when up there talking on her own. “Please pay attention while I am talking.” (which was one of the most impotent things I’ve ever heard a teacher say) The second day, I pitched in more, in about the same level of support she gives me, which is a lukewarm addressing of the worst offenders. I guess this is because I was curious to see how she would handle it, and I guess also because I wanted to see if her theory that a totally packed lesson equals kids too busy to act up actually works. I don’t think it did, but she was pretty happy because she got to write a lesson. Halfway through the week she decided the lesson didn’t work and inserted a youtube video of a powerpoint on the same topic, which made the lesson even less cohesive and which was awkward because she couldn’t tell whether she had hit play or pause. I’m a little worried she thinks she did better than she actually did, but on the other hand, I also think she realizes her lesson was too long and planned out. She did try and utilize me to illustrate definitions and to give a western background on things, and that greatly contributed to not being able to get through her lesson. So I think she has learned how my loose lesson actually has quite a lot of thought behind it, and that the open spots are necessary for elaboration. Anyway, there’s hope there too, and she appreciates the opportunity and I’m happy to let her try it again whenever she wants, especially since it’s her neck on the line when we have our open classroom in September, which seems to be the only thing the school is worried about.
Me, instead of an orchestrated teaching extravaganza like most of the open classrooms, I would rather use the time up until September to get the kids used to speaking real dialogs in the format I’ve introduced. While it’s a little chaotic right now, it’s much more real and I believe more beneficial in the long run. I’ve used this ball and dialogue technique about three times now. The first time was an absolute disaster, but by time number three they understand that toss=question and catch=answer. I think they are also getting the idea that any writing before hand is only fodder for real conversation later. I’m teaching them how to not kill a conversation, and what they can do to keep a conversation going. And even if I can only go through a real conversation with one out of every six boys, the five in immediate earshot learn a lot from my coaching even if they don’t get to speak. I think by September, we could have something pretty impressive going on, if we could do this every time so the FORMAT is second nature, not the dialogue. You wouldn’t believe how great these boys can talk when you ask them the right questions: like, “do you like learning English?”
Then, they’ll tell you quite a bit, like “I HATE English because…”
Getting 40 kids to talk in a foreign language has got to be one of the most challenging things in the world.