A few weeks ago we had an interesting day and experience for us new kindergarten teachers. We had been told by our agency (not the school) that essentially we are all horrible teachers and are on the verge of being fired; not only did they tell us this, but they said it in a very nasty way. Because of our “horrible” performances, they decided that Unnamed Teacher from the agency needed to come in and show us how to teach the proper way. Now, I must add that in our training sessions we were told that we should pretty much forget everything that the agency told us to do in the classes because it was wrong.
She came in yesterday morning, carrying herself, as usual, with her humungous ego and arrogant, nasty, condescending way of speaking. She jumped in on my lesson first. Well, let me tell you I was not happy at all with the way that things unfolded. Not only did she completely ruin my lesson plans for the day, but the way she treated the children was unacceptable to say the least. I know that I do not have experience in teaching and that at times the children make me want to pull my hair out, but I do know that scaring a child into submission is wrong.
Here is how my two lessons with Unnamed Teacher unfolded (keep in mind that these children don’t know English and are only just learning very basic vocabulary like animals and numbers, etc.):
1. She had all the students come out in the hall at the beginning of the lesson and line-up. Of course she did this very sternly, much too stern for these children. In order to reenter the classroom they all had to say their name. If they did not cooperate, they were sent to the back of the line and not allowed to enter the room until they did as they were told. She was also very handsy with the children; she would physically move the child to the back of the line or block the child from entering the room.
2. Once in the room she then made all the children sit down. Sounds ok, right? Not quite. Again she was physical with the children. If the child did not have his or her feet on the ground, she would grab their feet and put them on the ground. If a child was not sitting or wouldn’t sit down, she’d wrangle them, pick them up and put them in the chair. She was in no way gentle with the children.
3. Certain aspects were ok and doable such as high fiving the children who were sitting the right way, and doing emotions according to how they feeling (making faces for happy, sad, etc…).
4. After she was done (which was half way through my lesson), she looked at me, “Ok, what do you have planned for today?” I responded that we now didn’t have time for everything that I had had originally planned. So we did a partial lesson.
5. One of the misbehaving children was to hand out the books (which is a good point: make the unruly child have a job to do). The books had a video that they could follow along to since the children cannot read. As I was playing the video, she made me pause the short video every few seconds and have the children say what the new animal was that was introduced and what sound it makes. This is something that we had previously been told not to do unless the video had been watched before. It’d be the same as if you were trying to watch a show and someone kept pausing it and asking you questions. It breaks your concentration and angers you; it’s unfair to the children. If the video had been played again then perhaps it would had been more acceptable to do.
6. After the lesson, one of the children collected the books for me. We then went on to do an animal PowerPoint that I had prepared for the children. Since we’re learning about families and the book that they’re learning from has the adult and baby versions of the animals (cow / calf, cat / kitten…etc). Since the book does cover the pig, the children do learn it but extra time is not to be spent on it. For those of you who are unaware, the school that I am at is slightly conservative, and in the Islamic religion pigs are dirty, filthy animals and these children are taught that from the very beginning. So if a child goes home making pig sounds or faces, the parents are absolutely horrified by it and will and have called the school about it. When it came time to do the pig on the PowerPoint I mentioned this to Unnamed Teacher (and since she’s been in Turkey for awhile she is well aware of this) and we normally just quickly skim over the pig / piglet and move on to the next animal. She then blatantly said that she did not care and that they were doing the pig and the pig sounds.
7. After this, the lesson had ended and we were running into break time. Again she did not care and stated that there had to be an actual end to the class. I told her that I normally had the children do “The Goodbye Song” if there was time, which normally there is time but since we had gone into break time already, and I was going to be in the same classroom after break we should all be allowed to take their break. She wasn’t happy with this. During the break the children are normally allowed to go drink water, go to the bathroom, and so on. But Unnamed Teacher wanted this to be changed as well. She made them all line up again single file and head out to the bathrooms to wash their hands. She then proceeded to smell all of their hands to make sure they washed with soap and if they didn’t she sent them back into the bathroom. They were then all lined up to go back to the room, but before the went into the room they had to say something in English. If they didn’t they weren’t allowed in the room and had to go to the back of the line and sit. Finally, once all the students were back in the room break time was over and none of us (the kids and myself) didn’t even get an actual break.
8. She said she wanted to know how I ran the class and for me to start the lesson. When I went to start the lesson though, she stopped me and had all the kids to stretches. Stretches aren’t bad to do and the kids enjoyed that. The thing that annoyed me was that she was completely took over the lesson and even though she said she wanted to see how I ran the class, she kept taking over before I could have a chance to. The children kept looking at her like she was an alien.
9. We then went over the Animal PowerPoint again that I had made that had the animals from the Farmyard Jamboree on it (cow/calf, cat/kitten…etc), along with the animal sounds. That went over fine, but, again, she wanted to spend more time on the pig/piglet than I felt was necessary.
10. We then moved on to the activity that I had planned out for the day which was a cut and paste sheep/lamb activity. She kept criticizing how I was talking to the students as well. The kids understand me when I tell them to get up and get their pencil cases. They know what I mean, I call that a success. In her opinion, I spoke to quickly. I wasn’t. I was speaking at a normal pace, which is what we had been told and taught to do in the training session at the beginning of the year since when children interact with a native English speaker or watch an English show they’re not going to speak ridiculously slowly like Unnamed did. When she spoke that slowly the kids kept giving her weird looks, then look back over at me as if they were asking me what in the world was wrong with this woman. As the students one-by-one were finishing their projects, they were cleaning up and putting away their pencil cases which is very good and what they have been taught to do. Unnamed didn’t think that this was good enough. Even though the students have been told and taught to clean up their mess and put their stuff away when they’re finished, she wanted them to each raise their hands and ask permission each time they got out of their seats. Ok, so this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but when there are ten students who all need to get out of their seats to throw something out or to put something away every two seconds and you’re trying to help other students with things, it just doesn’t make sense, especially when they’ve been taught to clean up and whatnot all on their own. Unnamed physically sat them back down and raised their hands. My one shy and sensitive little boy had finished his stuff and packed up his pencil case. He went to get up and put it away when Unnamed yelled at him to sit down and ask permission. He obviously didn’t understand, and just sat back down and started crying. When I went to comfort him, she was like, “No, move on to the next child.” I was about to flip out. It got the point of being ridiculous.
11. The other two English teachers were called out of their lessons to watch this lesson as well so they were sitting on the side. Some of the students were moving around at this point so she had one of the other English teachers try to make them sit down. Now, keep in mind that this isn’t the other English teacher’s class, so the students don’t know her and she doesn’t know the students. She told them to “Sit down, please,” but they didn’t listen I guess. Unnamed got annoyed at this and was like, “No, you’re not asking them to sit down. Don’t say please. Tell them. Be stern. Be loud.” She then had her essentially angrily yell at the students to sit down. I felt so bad the kids and the other English teacher at this point. I was talking to the children and Unnamed comes up to me saying that she likes that I was now more involved with the children and that’s how I should always be. By this point, I had to refrain from cursing her out and instead snippily said, “Well, I normally am a lot more involved with the children but it’s hard to do so when you’re here and take over the class.” At the moment though it was time for lunch so she was cut off from whatever she was going to say back to me. We all rushed down to lunch to avoid her.
When I went back to the classroom later on that day, the kids and even the Turkish teacher assistant were happy and relieved that Unnamed wasn’t there. They all thought she was nuts. I wasn’t surprised to hear the next day (and I was actually a bit happy) that parents had called the teachers that night complaining and asking about who this horrible woman was that made their children cry (she had gone into other classrooms as well). She may know some useful things, but when it comes to kindergarten, and especially kindergarten in Turkey, I think she should stay far, far away from it.
As of late, my children have been listening better and I think it mainly has to do with the fact that they’re starting to fall into the school routine. I haven’t had many problems with the students, and if I do, I simply tell the homeroom Turkish teacher after the lesson. The next time I’m in the classroom they behave much better. I’m think I’m starting to grow on them as well, and I think the students are starting to realize that they’re picking up more English than they thought. I may not be all fun and games all the time but I know when they need a break. I’ll turn anything into an English lesson. Even musical chairs. You play English music and say simple commands: “Sit!” “Walk” etc.
My job may be stressful, but I love it and my children.