Lola O.
The hardest part of teaching for me, is when I have to give directions for an activity. Even the simplest directions can go wrong depending on...everything...

Just finished teaching for the day. Mondays and Tuesdays are my longest/worst teaching days. It is just nonstop, and I barely have time to rest or think. The only break time is during lunch time. It's not a big deal for me..just tiring. I know that once Tuesday is over, my week will only get better. Today has just been an extremely long Tuesday.

Lately, I have been feeling really tired no matter how much sleep I get. I'm not sure if it is all due to me being anemic, or because I am constantly doing something. Teaching definitely tires me out, but usually only when I am teaching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. They require a lot more energy (usually class management) than my 5th and 6th graders. Mondays and Tuesdays are mixed days for me. I teach 3rd (M(1)/T(2)), 5th( T(4)), and 6th (M(3)) plus I have two hours of afterschool on Mondays. By the time I get home on those days I just want to eat and sleep the rest of the day away.

Okay, so today I had my 3rd graders, two classes first thing in the morning. They were loud, cute, and fun as usual. Then I had four classes of 5th graders the rest of the day. We were doing the last period of Lesson 3, and I was in charge of the game part. Basically it was an information gap activity where the students had two strips of paper with object names on it (pen, book, bag..etc). They had two identical pictures. In the first picture, they can place the objects wherever they want. Then in the second picture they have to ask each other Where is the (object)? and then place the object where their partner tells them. So the first picture matches the other student's second picture.

Only the first class understood how to do this activity, in the other three classes it was confusion upon confusion. I felt mostly frustrated with myself. I really wished that I spoke Korean well enough to help them understand what I am saying. I know a bit of Korean, so it helped in the end, but honestly I can understand and relate to the kids being frustrated when they don't understand something. I took Korean for a semester in college and sometimes I would have those same blank stares of confusion mixed with frustration. I don't want the kids to rely on Korean to understand what is going on in their English class, but I do believe using some Korean is a good idea when all else fails. Most of the time we only use English unless it is a hard activity. This activity turned out to not be as easy as we had thought.

I explained the directions one more time, and basically pointed at the picture going cut strips, stick stick, anywhere in Korean. Then after they did that, I explained the second part. In the end (after three variations of the directions) it worked out, since my co-teacher and I walked around  and helped them as they did it. I don't know I just felt a little bit like a failure today. My energy is gone, and my mood is a pale blue right now.

Inside I was feeling all frustrated, and thinking about how I can be a better teacher next class, when some of the students came up to me with their big smiles, and happy faces. Giving me high fives and saying "See you on Friday!!!" Their happy smiles were/are contagious and I returned them feeling a bit lighter.

I realized two things today...
One, teaching is full of stumbling blocks both as the teacher, and as the student. We have to decide whether or not we are going to stay down, or rise up and try again next time. I'm going to try again next time, and take the things I noticed and learned today with me.

Two, communication isn't just about words. My body language and attitude make a big difference. I want to do my best to stay positive for myself and my students. I want them to understand that I understand it can/will be confusing and frustrating at times, but no matter what trying is better than not trying.

I hope my students are learning from me as much as I am learning from them. I am thankful for their positivity, smiling faces, and enthusiasm everyday. I guess I've had it pretty easy so far, because today is the first day I have felt like this. I know that there will be more days where things are a little off kilter, I just hope they will be few and far between.

This is just one of many moments where I am stumbling an figuring out how to get back up again. I know other expats that are teachers can relate to this feeling of failing their students. So any tips or advice would be great. Less than two hours to go, I think I will watch something funny after dinner with a friend. Laughter, always makes me feel better. That, and dessert:)! Thanks for reading...kind of a somber post.

Be Blessed,
~Lola O.~
6 Responses
  1. ~I get tired too. In your case it is a mix of teaching and anemia. The best you can do is add something energy wise to your diet...get sleep...take it all in strides..

    Teaching, though, especially young kids is tiring no matter what your body is made of.

    As for teaching an activity. It seems to help if you go slower. ANd maybe have them mime the actions with you. "Okay everyone pick up your scissors" "Take your paper" "Cut the paper like this." "Cut all sides." "Take up your glue" "Glue this peice together..."

    You get it~ Also demonstrating games with your coteacher works really well. A comprehension check from one of the smart students works well. Smart by that they can take what you said in English and say it all to the class in Korean. Maybe if a little prep ahead of time of the steps to show up on the board would help. I struggle with this too when it comes to the younger kids, but always just slow down a lot, even if it means they get little time to actually do it.

    ANyways next month you will get a few days off due to Children's day ;)

  2. Lola O. Says:

    My co-teacher and I even demonstrated it but most of them were still lost. I'm going to try the mime thing and see if that works. Usually, when my co-teacher and I demonstrate it, or we have students demonstrate it, they get it. But today we did both, and still they were lost.

    I will try and go slower, and simplify even more.

  3. william Says:

    you will have those days when you feel like a big failure. you go home feeling disappointed in yourself. terrible feeling. but know that all teachers go through that, especially in their first year.

    pull two students up front and do the activity. do it once with your co-teacher, then do it again with two students. do not even let the students do the activity until you feel like most of the students understand what to do. you should be able to gauge whether students are with you or lost.

    when you're giving out directions, always check for comprehension. give a direction, and check for comprehension. give more directions, check for comprehension. that way, you know that they're following you every step of the way.

    good luck!!


  4. Lola O. Says:

    Thanks William. I will definitely implement the comprehension check idea. I try to utilize students in demonstrating activities as much as possible, but it didn't seem to work in this one.

  5. mingo Says:

    Teaching is always hard. Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm a great teacher and it also makes me feel like I'm a loser... kk..
    It depends on the weather and what subject they've learned before English class. Especially if they just finish P.E class,I rather take a few minute off to have them calm down, having them close eyes and take a deep breath. BUT.. it doesn't always work. Not only teaching but also finding the effective ways of controlling students are teacher's job. I hope I can find the ways before I'm mentally disordered.kk....
    Anyway, Delly. You are at least trying to find the solution.That is good progress~. GOOD Luck!
    I'm so happy to see you here!!
    See you again! ^^
    (Oh, I forgot my google account. It's my husband's. I'm Youngae.)

  6. Lola O. Says:

    Hi Young Ae sshi:)...yes classroom management is an important part of teaching. I'm learning what works and doesn't work as I go. You are right, it really does depend on the weather, and I have noticed ho much more out of control they are when they have P.E. class. I've got a lot more to learn, but I will take it step by step.