Friday, September 3, 2010

First Week of School

There are many differences here from working in the US. First, I have very small classes. My AP class has 2 students; my Eng. 9/10 has 17; my M.S. Eng. 2 (6/7) 5 students; my M.S. Eng. 1 (8) 11 students; World Hist. has 8 students. My students here are very polite. When ever I see them they greet me. They always hold the door open for me when I am entering or exiting the classroom. The first day I gave them the MLA format for the heading on every paper. I have always done that with my students so that they get in the habit and know how to do it for essays. They have done it on every paper since then without me having to remind them. The first day I gave them a writing prompt. That is something standard I do with every class I have ever taught. I change the topic, but I do it to see where they are as writers. They asked how long, and I said one page. Not a single student complained. They all got right to work. They worked hard until they got done. I give them time limits like I have done with other students. They always make use of their time and don't waste it talking. My classes are pretty quite. My world history students are working on a power point. They are doing amazing things with them. Much more they I asked. From what I have seen so far I am going to be very impressed. They seem to know way more about computers than I do. They never ask me for help on how to do anything. With my American students I always had to remind them how to do things on the computer when we were doing spreadsheets or word documents. I was trying to figure out how many classes it was going to take them do it, so they would not have homework (since that is how it has been at my two American school). Here they expect homework. Several of my students told me that I could give them the due date and whatever they did not get done they could do as homework. I asked them if that was ok, and they said sure it is what they normally do. Cell phones are not allowed and so the students do not have them. They use the phone in the office. Students are given a handout for a class once. If they lose it they must pay to have another copy made. It helps them to teach responsibility and also not to waste paper. I wished sometimes in the past that I could have done that, because I really think my students would have been more responsible and less wasteful.
The schedule is still confusing to me, but that is ok. I actually am not minding rotating rooms. It is not like I have lots of lesson plans and file cabinets with things I need, so it is fairly easy to move from room to room. It may be a little tougher when we get farther in, and I have bigger projects I want to work on. Although, the students all bring their own supplies rather than my providing everything. I have a desk in one room, but I am only there for my planning periods. We as teachers do not use the computers as much during the day. We are small enough that we don't have an internal e-mail system, and so we are not on the computer checking that. We also don't have to go on every hour to log attendance, since we are so small they know who is gone. So we don't use the computers for that. They also just use a spreadsheet for grades, and not a grading program, so we don't need to constantly be on that either. I am a little anxious about doing my grades that way since I have always just plugged my grades in and had them figured for me. I will have to have people show me and check to make sure I am doing it correctly. I still have to look to see which room I am every hour. One thing that is kind of hard is that sometimes I think of these awesome lesson plans that I want to use, but I don't have them with me. I try to recreate them to the best of my ability but sometimes I don't feel it is quite as good or creative as I have made it in the past. Since I have several classes that I must prepare for it would be nice if I had some more lesson plans that I could tweak and use instead of starting out from the beginning, but oh well.
Everyone is so nice here, but I have worked with lots of nice people in the past, so that is not really a difference. People in general here are so polite. If they enter the class while it is going on. They always wait and say excuse me. They will even say excuse me when they leave a room even if it does not disturb others.

Even though there are lots of wonderful things there is one hard thing. They don't have a bell system, and the clocks are not all on the same time. The students don't wear watches, and so they don't know the time. Their lockers are in the classrooms, so sometimes a teacher will let their students out because their clock says it is time, but another class will still be working because their clock says it is still class time. They do try to be very quiet and respectful though so as not to disturb the class that is still working. I gave my students the very first day my expectations. One is to be on time, so my students are very good about being on time now. They know if they are out on break and see me standing at the front of the room that it is time to come in. (It does make sense to not have a bell system since they have been so small, but I can see if it continues to get bigger they will need one.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting ready for school

I have been working on lesson plans, but it is hard since school started the 9th of August for them, and I am stepping in a few weeks later. I tried my best to connect with the teachers who are currently teaching the classes to find out what they have done so far. One problem was that they were still using the textbooks, so I could not take the textbooks home with me. I have been reading the novels and essays that I will be using with my AP student. One of the novels I have decided not to use and the same with one essay. There may be some others that I decide to use. It is hard because many of the works for the AP class I have not read. They were books on my to do list, but I had not gotten to them yet. The Director of Studies suggested that I have the class audited. I will have to check into that more. There is another teachers outline of the class that I can take an adapt, but it will take me awhile to do so.
I have been getting excited because I have all these ideas I keep thinking of things I want to do in the future. I have been writing them down so I don't forget them. Some of the ideas I have I need people from back home to send me the directions. I tried to scan as many documents as possible, but that was time consuming, and I had to pack and ran out of time.
I did a junior field experience at the 8th grade level in Social Studies. The teacher was a nice guy but all he did was lecture and the students fell asleep. I came in with things that I was learning in my classes like Anticipation Guides, Cloze passages, jigsaw, KWL charts, etc. The students actually enjoyed learning about history and paid attention. All these activities plus the timeline we put together at the end helped them to do much better when it came to test time. The teacher was even impressed. I am excited to use these activities again. I love English, but sometimes I admit there are authors I am not crazy about, but I act excited anyway and don’t let me students know that. Some of those same activities I have used in my English classes, but some I had forgotten. It seems like I had more enthusiasm when I first started teaching and could do creative things to get the lessons across, but at my last school they were so strict about how they want things done and the time frame. They wanted everyone to do everything the same thing the same way at the same time. I feel that we are all different and when we can be creative in our strengths then it makes our teaching better, the students enjoy the classes more and they retain the knowledge longer.

My 30th

I went to a restaurant for dinner at the Tembeling Resort. The view was gorgeous. I was able to look down at all the verdant landscape, and out to the China Sea. There were monkey that climbed up on the outside of the walls. When they got to close the waitress shooed them away. There were no windows, so I could feel the warm air with a slight cool breeze every once in awhile. I had an appetizer for my meal. It was prawns wrapped in wanton skins that were fried. It was very good. I also had a side of white rice. To drink I had watermelon juice. Afterward I had an chocolate with almond pieces ice cream bar.
My birthday was pretty relaxing. We went out and had breakfast again at the same restaurant as the Saturday before, so I got to have Thosai again. Then I dropped off all my stuff I wouldn't need at my room for the weekend. After that I mostly spent the day catching up on correspondence with people.