I don’t know if it was the coffee or my fear of being one of the bad teachers in Waiting for Superman, and the fact that I had just watched Detachment on the airplane ride over to Korea, but I had some serious shakes before I taught today. I might have had a small glass of wine right before walking to the school, to knock out my nerves.
Turns out, I was worried for all the wrong reasons. Here I thought, of the three parts a teacher needs to be; one part entertainer, one part babysitter, one part educator, that I’d definitely have the entertaining bit down. I was sure I’d forget the lesson structure and deviate from the plan. I kept in mind what my trainers told me, “Just get through the material.” So I did. I tried to be as engaging as possible and even ridiculously silly at times, but with the varying levels of students in each class, sometimes a bad apple, and kids that aren’t used to being engaged in the classroom, besides simply supplying the right answer, it was a challenge to stay awake, myself.
You can’t go slow enough for the kids who are having trouble, because you lose the bright kids to boredom. I literally saw the light die out of one kid’s eyes, in my elementary reading class. He was so eager to answer every single question, and even prepared to support his reasoning. But I couldn’t call on him all the time and started cold-calling the others, while he reached desperately for the ceiling. He was doodling with his head down by the second hour, even when I called on him. Poor kid.
Then with the middle-schoolers. Geez, was puberty really that bad? I don’t remember. The kids are so divided, you can see them giving each other dirty looks. I have just two kids, a boy and a girl, that answer me, the rest stare at me with blank faces. Even if I taylor the lesson to their interest. K-pop? Soccer? Starcraft? They don’t care. One teacher jokingly agreed, “Some of my kids are so lethargic, I swear I could set their hair on fire and they wouldn’t care.” These kids are so burnt out from the list of schools they go to everyday, how am I supposed to enthrall them from 7 to 10pm over finding a thesis statement?
So now I need tips. Jeopardy? Wheel of Fortune? How can I work games into such a specific teaching methodology? We have our entire lesson outlined for us to facilitate these kid’s learning, and I don’t know where I can fit in the fun. In fact, the method is protected by law so I can’t share it with you guys for feedback. Anyone out there with teaching experience or even ideas? What worked and didn’t work when we were in school?