Posted by: Cacille | March 21, 2012

My school!

My school is awesome. It is a boy’s middle school with 500 students. Not only do the teachers like me, but so does the principal and vice principal. I have my own separate office from the other teachers, but I also have two huge classrooms and a small library at my convenience. One of the classrooms has a projector screen and microphone system and stage. (Stage room) The other has a 60″ touchscreen monitor and forced air heating/ac. (HELP room) Guess which classroom I like to use?

…Yeah. Touchscreen ALL the way. I’m lucky, I know. The principal calls that room his pride and joy, and he doesn’t like me using that room. But oh my god, I’m glad I do. That touchscreen cemented my status as a fun teacher and got the kids talking.

You see, kids are NOTORIOUSLY shy in middle school. To the point of frustration of many a ESL teacher. They will just NOT talk if they can help it, and lots of teachers resort to using candy to get them to talk. My first two days, some of the classes were so shy. But  I had to go to their classes cause for some reason, the computer in the HELP room wasn’t functioning. So, after it was fixed, I started using that class like crazy! The kids immediately loved it. It’s bright, it’s warm, and it is very cool because of the really cool videos  and powerpoints I’d use on it. I could show off a DETAILED image of my city. I could show awesome pictures of the city waterfront, pictures of family, etc.  I also act out words and actions in the class as best I can. By the end of the first week, I had the kids in the palm of my hand.  Without a speck of candy given.

Now I can barely get the kids to shut up.  The co-teacher is great for this little problem…getting the kids to listen. Some translate a bit for me, some don’t.  Basically, they stay to clarify things sometimes, and to maintain discipline. Not to say that I don’t have a handle on the discipline, but it will take some time – as being a foreign teacher, their respect for me as a teacher is not quite as high.  We are working on this more this week, as I do have some good discipline tactics, but sometimes nothing will work, as demonstrated in a class I had yesterday. No worries. Next week, there will be punishment for that class :)))))

For future ESL teachers, the main thing you need to do is make sure they talk. Talk talk talk. Get them comfortable using the language by doing group talking -saying the same thing over and over and over in their table groups. Or saying things together as a class.  Make them FIND groups  by giving them slips of paper tailored for the lesson, and then say “get up, find a group that matches your piece of paper, using English only”.  You could have color groups (Green group, yellow group) or numbered papers (1-20 group, 20-40 group) or Same Thing groups (car, bus, train group-paper, scissors, chalk group) Depending on their levels, you should be able to get them talking by making them find groups, repeat certain phrases or conversations, etc.

Also, make sure to set up rules first thing. Later in the school year, some classes you may not have a co-teacher, due to the amount of work on them they need to do for their home classes. You’re on your own sometimes, so set the rules straight and enforce them early – enforce them HARD at first – harder than you normally would and you can slack the rules a little in the following weeks.  My main rule is “when Teacher speaks, no one else speaks” and I enforce that big time. Placing a hand on a talking kid’s shoulder. Making a kid stand or even move tables. Counting down works sometimes…and lastly – i sing badly  if they do not shut up. Forcing them to cover their ears…which stops the talking. Although there is some laughing at you involved afterwards, and possibly some copying later, lol!

Good luck ESL teachers.  Remember, try to go for being fun, but a little strict with rules, and you will have an awesome year.

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