Since my last update, there has been a lot that’s happened here. Due to the problems involving my school and the government there have been many unfavorable changes at my school and many others. Because of these problems way too many of our beloved teachers had to leave. We are all trying to wrap our heads around this surreal situation. One day they were here teaching with us, the next they weren’t even allowed to come to the school. Even though we are all still trying to figure this stuff out, fewer teachers means an obvious change in our schedules. Out of the five English kindergarten teachers there are only two of the original including myself and a third who used to be a coordinator. Actually, if you think about it, I am the only original left since the other girl has only been working with us in January. Aside from that, our schedules have been completely switched around. I used to teach 6B, 6D, and have a shared class with 5C. Now, I don’t have my 5 year olds at all, and I have lost 6D. I have added on 6A and 6C. These two classes are drastically different from what I’ve had to teach all year. Keep in mind that 6B and 6D have only had me as their English teacher all year. For 6A and 6C I am their fourth English teacher. They both have severe behavioral problems (6C being the one that is going to give me white hair). I have to go into those classes prepared for the worst, and I never know how I am going to come out. I know all of their names, and the kids somewhat know me, but they’re not used to behaving. For the most part, I have gotten 6B and 6D to behave and respect me. 6A and 6C don’t really know what that is. Luckily, I still have 6B who I’ve always considered my angel class. It is interesting noticing the differences in the dynamics of the classes and even how much English the class as a whole knows. Basic stuff that 6B and 6D know, these classes have no clue about. I used to be able to have conversations with 6B and 6D, but I can’t at all with these two classes. So, I am essentially starting from the beginning with these two classes as their fourth English teacher at the end of the year. One thing that boosted my teaching esteem was when the teacher who now has 6D told me that she loves them because they know so much English. That made me smile. And to think that I used to consider 6D my devil class! They don’t even compare to the new ones I have. I will try to do my best with these classes. I do want them to know what the other classes know, and there are a select few students in each class that really do want to learn and know a decent amount of English. The sad part, though, is that even these students who are smart and want to learn don’t listen that well simply because they haven’t had a stable teaching environment throughout the year. Well, I will have an interesting month and a half left with them. Let’s see what I can do even though the month of May and certainly June are known as the all fun and no work months in the school world.
I’ve been noticing some things about my children. For one, they’ve certainly aged over the two week winter break. It’s bittersweet. I don’t want them to grow up! I was skimming through some pictures I have of them from the beginning of the year and the ones from now, and the changes may not be noticeable to someone who doesn’t know them, but to me? Wow! They’re losing their baby fat, becoming more like little adults…It is strange to watch them grow up. During lunch the other day, some of the “big kids” came over to say hi to their brothers/sisters and some of the teachers. They looked so grownup even though they were probably only ten years old at most. A bunch of them hugged one of our English teachers because they had had her just three years ago. Then I started thinking about my little ones and how much they are going to change in just a couple of years. I confess, I did get a little teary eyed.
I’ve also noticed that some of them are really starting to understand more. They may have forgotten some vocabulary over winter break, but, in general, they are starting to understand more of what I am saying. For example, the other day we were playing Pictionary with the SmartBoard to review our animals. Whoever guessed the animal got to come to the board to draw. One of my children had already had his turn at the board, so I looked at him and said (with gestures as well) that he had already gone so if he could pick someone else to go instead it would be really nice. At first I didn’t know if he had understood because some of the other students had distracted me, but less than a minute later I felt a tug at my sleeve. He told me to, “Come,” and then proceeded to whisper into my ear the name of the child that he had picked to go instead of him! I was so proud of him. Not only did he understand, but he also was not selfish about keeping his turn.
As much as some of these children can drive me crazy, they also melt my heart everyday. The other day, when it was time to go home, the children would not let me leave. The circled around me, each one grabbing onto and hugging a different part of me. “Teacher, no goodbye!” Then one of my little cherub faces held my hand an wouldn’t let go until he was distracted. This has been happening a lot more lately. I certainly don’t mind it. It makes my day for sure. If there is one thing that I love about teaching in Turkey, it’s that unlike in the States, the children are allowed to hug and kiss you and you can reciprocate the actions as well. No one will call you out for it saying that you shouldn’t do that. In fact, it’s encouraged. Love, love, love and more love.
Speaking of love and noticing, I’ve found my nurturing personality to have really come in handy. My one student, who had been transferred from another school because his behavior was so bad and violent and been making improvements; well, at least he has in my classes. I decided that when he came, what he did not need was another person yelling at him. He needed and needs someone to give him a little extra attention and love. I can be firm with him, but I will not yell at him because I honestly believe that’s the only way he has ever heard his name. He’s obviously a hyperactive child who needs a different kind of care than the other children. This is something that the other Turkish teachers do not seem to realize. I constantly hear him getting yelled at or I see him sitting in the hall while the other children are playing in the play room. Now, yes, sometimes his actions do necessitate a consequence, but I also have noticed that a lot of the time he is unfairly blamed for things or they yell at him because even though there are other children out of their seats, he’s the problem child so they’ll automatically yell at him. I’ve seen this happen in my own class (the assistant teachers are sometimes in our classes during our lessons). I made sure at the end of that lesson to point out to the teacher that he had been good and that there was no need for punishment of any kind. It may take more than once, but eventually, he’ll listen to me. He’s no longer violent in my classes and, in fact, has started to randomly hug me. I can tell it’s not something that he is used to doing because of the way he does it, but it’s a start. Sometimes, in order to do his work, he also needs a little push. I’ll sit down next to him and start working on the project with him or I’ll tell him what needs to be done. More often than not, he’ll end up doing the work. He just needs some extra motivation.
These past few weeks have been going really well at the school. I know I’m going to jinx myself by saying this though. For the most part the children have been very cooperative, and even…dare I say… somewhat respectful. They’ve also started to randomly run up to me in the hall, or shout, “Angela Teacher! Angela Teacher!” every time they see me and will not stop until I acknowledge and/or talk to them. I love them so much. I cannot describe to you how it makes me feel. Unless you teach children, I don’t think you’d be able to understand. The closest similar situation I can think of would be being tackled by a bunch of puppies. In a way, I feel it’s even more special because of the language barrier that there is. I can tell they’re learning more and more every day.
Break through! This week we were learning about germs and hygiene, and I thought to myself that this might be a bit difficult to do, but to my surprise, it’s gone over really well! The first day we started talking about it, I played a short video with a lot of English, but they seemed to get the general idea. They even kept going on about it in the little English that they knew. They were all very eager to try and say stuff. There was a lot of miming going on. And I found myself having conversations with them.
“Teacher! Germ..mmm…germ small small small!”
“Teacher! Germs…germs is…mmm no..is bleh!” – Me: “Germs are bad?” – “Yes! Bad!”
“Teacher! Mommy doctor-doctor! Mommy *points to teeth*doctor-doctor.”
“Teacher! Me mommy doctor-doctor! *Achoo* doctor-doctor.”
“Teacher! Toilet..wash your hands!”
“Teacher! Germs *uses arms to show the whole room.*” – Me: “Germs are everywhere?” – “Yes teacher! *mimes cleaning the table*”
Now imagine these little phrases with the most adorable accents.
This week went pretty well. We did some crafts to go along with the germs and hygiene. Germy hands, followed by wash your hands, and finished up with sparkling clean hands.
Also, I started Turkish lessons about a month ago (they’re only once a week), and I and his family can already see huge improvements in my understanding of the language. The Turkish teachers at school can see it as well. It’s hard, but I’m trying. I wish I had lessons everyday, but this once a week is better than nothing. Having actual instruction is the only way for my brain to learn the language, because that’s how my brain has been hard wired. It’s a pain, but living in a house where only Turkish is spoken helps (and at the same time can be super stressful). I really just need to start memorizing more vocabulary. I cannot wait until we start learning more about sentence structure and verb conjugations.
I’ll try to update more regularly! I’ve just been really busy as of late. The big thing though right now is that my students haven’t been stressing me out as much as they used to, and I love it and them. They’re all way too cute for their own good.
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.
So, I know that there’s been quite a gap since now and my last post, but I assure it’s mainly because of how busy I have been. Teaching these children has been anything but boring and definitely an experience and a half. Wow. I’ve had ups and downs and everything in between.
Teaching here in Turkey children is by far one of the hardest jobs I can think of and it mainly has to do with the culture here and the school. This does not mean I don’t like my children, in fact, it is quite the opposite. I love them to death. As frustrated and angry as they can make me, they are also able to melt my heart in two seconds flat. By now, I have gotten to know my children pretty well. Most of them do not listen to a word that is spoken. They will run around and do whatever they like whenever they like. The first couple of weeks it was a lot harder to corral them all up and have them sit down, but, at least now, I can get them all to sit down. Whether or not they listen and be quiet is a whole other story. We each have a teacher’s assistant in the room. You would think this would be helpful, but, at times, it can create more problems because the assistants (as well as the homeroom teachers) don’t speak a lick of English. They are supposed to be in the room behaving and participating in the lessons just like the students. More often than not, they’re off doing their own thing or something that they were told to do by the Turkish homeroom teacher. They’re also not supposed to speak Turkish, but, ha, that flew out the window the first day. They have grown on me though, and do help out when it is needed. I’m a bit sad because today they’ve all switched homerooms. So, I now have new teacher assistants in my classrooms.
My 6B class has turned itself around quite a bit. When I first started to try and teach them, it was chaotic, and they didn’t listen whatsoever. Now, though, it seems that they are learning more and are, at times, much better behaved than my other class. I think this may have to do with the seating dynamic as well as the attitude of the homeroom teacher. This classroom arranged in a kind of semi half circle, or rather more like a semi half ellipse. One problem I have with this class is the SmartBoard. The SmartBoard itself will work, but the SmartPen will not. So I can’t do any of the activities that I do with 6D with this class and it’s extremely frustrating. We don’t even have a white board to work with so I just have to make do with what I have. The SmartBoard in this classroom is nothing more than a glorified projector. I have twelve children in this class (my biggest class) and they are all strikingly different.
Child 1: I tend to have problems with this child. It’s not that he is inherently a bad child, but it’s that he is not really interested in anything that is going on in the classroom. He doesn’t like to sing the songs, or color, or anything of the sort. He mimics me a lot though with a bit of an attitude. For example, if I say, “Sit down, please.” He’ll say the exact same thing with a slight attitude. He can be really good at times though. If we’re doing an activity and I show him exactly what to do a couple of times, he’ll get it done. It’s not necessarily the greatest work, but when he does something I consider it success. I know his older brother has some learning difficulties, so I’m thinking that it’s a possibility that he does as well.
Child 2: Now, this child is normally an angel and a bit of charmer. This past week, however, he hasn’t really been listening at all or participating like he used to. I’m trying to figure out if maybe something went on at home or in school. He’s hanging out more with the trouble maker boys so I’m assuming that’s what going on because he has a twin brother, Kaan, in another teacher’s classroom but his brother hasn’t been acting up at all.
Child 3: I love this little girl. She listens to absolutely everything and is the perfect student. It’s not even that she’s like a teacher’s pet or anything of the sort, she just really seems to want to learn. I feel bad at times because I know that if I had one on one time with her she would excel. Not once have I had to tell her off, and I can’t say that for any other student that I have. She’s a brilliant little one and, if given the chance, will go far. I need to figure out a way to give her more activities to do because I feel like she gets bored at the pace that we’re going. She also has one of the programs that I use to teach at home. She likes it because she knows all the words to the songs and such but I feel bad at times because she isn’t learning anything new and I know she wants to. Even when it comes to playing games that the other children love to play, say like musical chairs or something of the sort, she’ll just sit and watch. She really wants to just learn and do school work. It’d be so much easier to teach her if we were allowed to teach them the alphabet, but we’re not allowed to do so.
Child 4: Ah, my little dreamy-eyed, cuddle bug. This little one has a twin as well (in my other class; I’ll get to him later), and the differences between them are like night and day. Sedat loves cuddles and to be right next to me and to hug and be on teacher’s lap, etc. His father is also the vice principal of the kindergarten. Now, he may be cuddly little sweetheart, but he also has his moments. One day he was not listening at all. It was in the beginning so there was no structure or daily routines established either. The teacher assistant was busy doing something and wasn’t in the room either. He’s was being rotten and when I was telling everyone to sit, he decided to put his chair on top of the table and sit on it there. He wouldn’t listen at all when I told him to get down or that I’d go get his father. Nothing. He only listened when the Turkish teacher came into the room, and even then, he gave her a hard time. There are times when he will downright ignore anything and everything or the teacher assistant says, but then there are also the times when he also really wants to learn. Let’s take for example a while ago we were playing with some Play-Doh. He was making food with it and wanted to know what everything was in English. So, he’d tell me the Turkish word, and if I knew it I’d tell him what it is in English, and he would then repeat back to me a time or two. Today, we were reviewing some colors and he was teaching me what the colors were in Turkish. “Teacher, teacher pink türkçe pembe…. Teacher, orange türkçe turuncu…” He did this for each color that I showed on the SmartBoard. He’s a smart one who also wants to learn, but does need to learn how to listen a bit more.
Child 5: This little one has been much better. In the beginning she was a little devil, but now she’s one of the few that actually listens the first time I say to do something. Even though she hasn’t been in class that often (combination of sickness and holidays I’m assuming) she’ll pick up pretty quickly what she’s missed.
Child 6: Most of the time, this one behaves pretty well. If he’s getting out of line at all, I usually only have to give him the look or tell him once to sit down. He’s a quiet one, and pretty nervous when I call him. More often than not, he knows the answer but is too nervous to say it so you have to say it with him or do it with him. It’s as if he’s afraid of being wrong, like as if someone embarrassed him in the past or he’ll get in trouble if he’s wrong. I keep encouraging him though so I’m hoping he makes progress.
Child 7: This little girl has an interesting story. When I first came into the classroom, I could tell that something was not quite right. She has a constant head shake, never talks, needs direct one-on-one contact and directions to understand anything (English or Turkish) and a multitude of other problems. I was concerned and asked around about her. Turns out, she does have some learning difficulties (what exactly I still don’t know). I nearly cried when she said some English words for me (with the help of one of the other students), and even the Turkish teacher was surprised. After the week’s holiday that just recently passed, I noticed a difference in her (they changed her medication or something of the sort) She’s been participating more and talking more as well as doing better during the class activities. I get such an overwhelming feeling of happiness and pride whenever I see the progress she’s making, and I like to show off her colorings or drawings that she does to the Turkish teachers because even they get surprised when she does stuff.
Child 8: My little cherub-faced monster. Oh, boy. He’s a handful. He’s smart and loud impossible to get angry at whenever he doesn’t listen (which is quite often) because of his face and dimples and sweetness. He’ll hug me and won’t let go, and when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to he’ll smile the most adorable smile and say, “Teacheerrrrrrrrrr.” AH! Frustrations! I can’t get mad at him because of how ridiculously cute he is and because he really isn’t doing anything all that bad but he causes the other students to follow along and I want to lose my mind some days. There was one day when the students were not listening at all and I was two seconds from bursting. He ran up to me and hugged me saying, “I love you, Teacher.” And the rest of the class followed suit. I was weighed down by twelve six year olds who were all hugging me. There was no way that I could be angry.
Child 9: This little one confuses me. I think he’s confused as well. He can be downright horrible at times and the definition of a little terror. Running around, laying under the table, not doing anything he’s told… But this past week he’s been a bit better. I know he’s smart but he never really applies himself. He did so this week though. When you ask him something, he’ll know the answer. I need to learn how to deal with him. I don’t want to stunt his learning ability but he’s a hard one to figure out. I need to try and pay more attention to him and give him some more responsibilities around the classroom.
Child 10: I’m not sure how to feel about her. The first few days of school she pretended to be a perfect little angel, which she is anything but. Now she has her good days and her bad days. Her behavior isn’t consistent at all, and I think just depends on her mood that day. She likes to rock out to whatever music I play, and some days will be a great little teacher’s assistant. Other days though she can be a bit of a bully and not listen at all. Some days she’ll listen, other days there’s no getting through to her. More often than not, it’s the latter. The days that she listens though make up for it. Then again, the days that she does not listen definitely have an effect on her learning.
Child 11: He has way too much energy. An interesting child. In the beginning he was very good, colored and drew very well, but now it’s as if he eats nothing but sugar and hops around every, scribbles through his drawings and coloring pages, misbehaves and the like. Odd. I don’t know what to make of him because each day he gets worse.
Child 12: The tiniest child that I have in my six year classes. He was an angel who spoke no English whatsoever. He’s picked up on the English that I’ve taught in class (numbers, colors, family) but now he doesn’t listen well. He’ll run around with Kaya, Kerem, and Efe and be a little terror as well. Eventually he’ll do as he’s told. I’m just glad that he’s picking up the English that I’m teaching him, because when I first met at him and would say anything to him, he’d just look at me, smile, then give me a hug. He’s one of the little ones that joined in on the hug-pile and said, “Teacher, seni çok seviyorum!” (I love you lot!)
Recently, I’ve been having more and more listening problems with this class. I think it mainly has to do with the layout of the classroom. It’s kind of arranged like a rectangle. The girls sit at one end and the boys sit at the other end. This obviously causes huge problems. I want to rearrange the classroom, but that’s not choice; that’s the homeroom teacher’s choice. At least the SmartBoard in this classroom works so I can play games in which the students can interact with it. They love this and will often be quiet and good in order to do so. I’ve noticed that there is always a battle between the girls and the boys whenever there is a game going on. This class may be smaller but I have a few more trouble makers in here.
Child 13: At first, this girl was very good. Listened to everything, participated and whatnot. Now, though, she seems to have not a care in the world and does what she wants. If I say we’re doing something, she’ll just be like, “No, Teacher,” walk off, and do her own thing. She can be a bad influence at times as well because she’ll gather the girls (there are only four girls in the classroom) and have them do whatever she wants. It’s hard to deal with because these are the girls that are usually pretty good and pay attention. The problem is though is that she’s smart. She knows her vocabulary but she can be very snooty and has a bit of an air about her, as if she’s too good for the class and what’s going on.
Child 14: This went straight from four years class to six years class. I personally think that it was a mistake. She’s not ready for the six years class and should be in the five years class. She’s great at coloring and drawing, but that’s about it. She’s still behind the others when it comes to counting, animals, colors, and the like. She likes to dance but only to her own beat. She won’t do the specific dances to the songs that are in our routines. She gets offended very easily too, but knows when she’s doing something she’s not supposed to do. Like today, she was standing on her chair; I just looked at her, said her name, and she automatically sat down with coy little, “Tamam, Teacher…” (Ok/Alright, Teacher).
Child 15: She’s a budding little artist for sure. Her drawing skills are way above most of the other students. She’s pretty good with her vocabulary as well, and listens for the most part. She’ll participate but she’s pretty quiet and won’t go out of her way be loud. She’s a cutie though usually doesn’t have to be told twice to do something.
Child 16: She’s Miss Prim and Proper. Always quiet. Always does as she’s told. Always knows the answer, and if she doesn’t she’ll learn it. Always sits with proper posture and hands in her lap. Colors perfectly. Only recently have I had some issues with her listening, but that’s only because she was having issues with the other girls in the classroom. I saw her and older sister walking together one day and it was like I was watching Azra and a taller clone of Azra. Same walk, same braided pigtails, same glasses.
Child 17: Ughhhhh. Oh, Enes, Enes, Enes. Talk about a trouble maker. He knows a lot more English than he lets on. He’s always causing problems and not listening either. Luckily, it’s not just me he doesn’t listen to (I know it’s not good, but it does make me feel better that I’m not the only who can’t control him). Recently though, I’ve found out a way to make him somewhat behavebetter. He’s in love with the Five Little Monkeys song/ video and always asks for it. I’ve been telling him that if he and everyone else is good, I’ll play it at the end of the lesson. Every time he starts to act up, I’ll look at him and tell him, “No monkeys.” He’s then good and tries to get the others to pay attention as well, and since he’s pretty much the class gang leader they usually listen to him. I have problems though with him and another boy in the classroom. They’re constantly fighting, physically. It’s been better as of late, but it’s ridiculous that there aren’t any consequences for this type of behavior.
Child 18: This is the other trouble maker that I have in the class. He’s considerably smaller than Enes, and he’s the one that Enes always gets into it with. Enes will provoke him somehow and they’ll end up punching, kicking, hitting, slapping, whatever they can do. When they are finally pulled apart Baran always has something to say. This is a point when I really wish I knew Turkish because whatever comes out of his mouth like it’s something mean and scary even. He talks up a storm. He hates coloring and does like to learn but never pays attention to anything. It’s strange though because his mother is one of the teachers in the kindergarten (she teaches five years). I could be talking directly to him, and he’ll completely ignore me and avoid eye contact and continue to talk or do whatever he likes in the meantime. I need to find some more ways to get this child more into the lessons. He loved it the other day when I brought some mazes for him to do because I know he doesn’t like to color. He finished them too quickly though and then got angry when I didn’t have any more for him. I’ve realized that he has some anger issues.
Child 19: He’s the twin of my doe-y eyed student in 6B. Everything that Sedat is when it comes to cuddly and such, he is not. Vedat has piercing eyes, sharper feautures, and is more of a “manly man.” He hates the cuddly stuff and will push away the hugs. He has a charming, devilish grin though. He can be rough and has some listening problems as well. He’s smart. He’ll call out the answers and listens only slightly better than Enes and Baran. He’s been getting better though behavior wise, so I’m happy about that.
Child 20: This child is going to be a model when he’s older. We’ve all decided for him. He’s cool, he’s ridiculously pretty, and has eye lashes that any girl would be jealous of. Aside from that, he knows he’s cool. Say we’re doing the morning routine songs / dances… he’ll do his own little body shake / shimmy and show off. When he gets out of hand though, which is pretty often since most of the boys in that class are pretty close, it only takes me one time to say his name and he’ll sit back down. He gets distracted very easily though. The other day, everyone had finished their activity but he was still working on his because Baran kept talking to him and he couldn’t cut and listen at the same time. He finally finished at the very last minute. All in all though, he’s a good kid.
Child 21: The tiniest in the class and the quietest. He often won’t say anything when he’s called on and will just sit down and look at the desk. I can tell he knows what we’re learning though because he’ll participate when the whole class is yelling out answers or when we’re doing a SmartBoard activity; at those times he’ll raise his hand because everyone else is and he doesn’t want to be left out. I encourage him as much as I can. Behavioral wise he’s in between. He’s not too bad, but he’s not angel either. He’s a bit of a perfectionist when he’s drawing, coloring, or cutting so he often finishes things after everyone else. I also apparently cannot for the life of me pronounce his name correctly and Vedat makes fun of how I say his name. One of the first days I was in class with Alp, I was writing their names on their projects that they were working on. Most of the students have two names, first and middle. Alp’s is Mehmet Alp. I didn’t know at the time though that he preferred Alp. I wrote Mehmet on his project and he tried to fix it and change it to Alp, but he could only sort of write the A and an awkward L. I figured it out later. He can now write ALP on his papers and is very proud of it. He must’ve learned this at home though since we’re not allowed to teach them the alphabet.
Child 22: He’s the best behaved in this class, and he’s also a sweetie. He loves to participate and raise his hand even when he doesn’t know the answer at all. He’s another one who loves hugs. When all the boys are causing trouble, he’s normally not involved. Infact, Ahmet and Alp are usually together. They’re the quieter ones in the classroom. It doesn’t help that they look similar as well. In the beginning of the year I couldn’t tell them apart at all and kept getting them confused, but now I’ve got it down. Ahmet can be a bit sensitive as well and will cry if others start to make fun of his coloring / drawing etc. Luckily, he’s usually pretty good, so I don’t have many problems with him.
This class is my shared lessons course, meaning the homeroom teacher does the lesson with me. It’s hard to come up with a joint lesson though when I don’t speak Turkish and she doesn’t speak English. Somehow though we manage pretty well. I’m lucky because she’s one of the few Turkish teachers that actually tries with the shared lessons. I’ll talk, she’ll talk, etc. The children in this class are pretty well behaved.
Child 23: Engin is an interesting child. He looks like he could seven or eight but s really only five. This is probably because his mother is probably about 6 feet tall. We refer to him as the one with the “cool” parents because they’re always dressed sharp and in black. He’s an odd one though. Some days he’ll participate and other days he won’t say a thing. It doesn’t help that he’s the biggest in the grade either. He doesn’t quite fit in. If I talk to him one-on-one though he’s pretty good.
Child 24: The tiniest child I have, and he can’t do anything. It’s adorable and kind of sad at the same time. This is a perfect example of how coddled Turkish children are. You should have seen the “scissors” he was first sent to school with. They were the tiniest little plastic scissors that looked like they came out of a doll’s play kit or something. They barely worked. He’s helpless when it comes to doing anything, but he’s just so cute, you can’t help but help him with everything. He’s always asking what to do (in Turkish of course) for every single little thing. He’s so cute though because of how tiny he is. Lately, he’s been getting better at cutting things out (he’s got himself some big boy scissors now) even though it takes him forever.
Child 25: She’s great. I think I’ve only ever had to tell her off once. What smart girl she is! A little too smart for the class though I think. She’s sweet and a teacher’s pet; sometimes I think she’s like to take the teacher’s place. She knows her stuff though, I have no qualms with her and I know she’s going to excel throughout the year. I’m a little afraid that next year she might turn into an Eslem though…
Child 26: She gets a little too excited. She knows a lot and loves to show it off. Anything that she can get her hands on, if she learned the English word for it she’ll say it, and if she doesn’t know it, she’ll ask what it is until she remembers it. I know she gets a little too into it at times, but in ways I wish all my students had her eagerness to learn and show off a bit.
Child 27: He’s another smarty pants, but he doesn’t show it off. He knows his stuff, and is very proud of it. He’s quiet and very well behaved. There was a week or two that he wasn’t in class in the beginning of the year but it didn’t seem to matter because when he was back he still seemed to know more than the other students.
Child 28: He’s a little cheeky monkey. Smart though. He can memorize songs very easily, and has every single word of “Old MacDonald” memorized. I was very surprised when was sang along to the song. Many of the students have a hard enough time just trying to master the E-I-E-I-O part and the animal sounds. He’s cute and he knows it. He can be cheeky and then get away with it because he’s smart. He definitely understands a lot more English then he lets on, because he also rides the service bus that I ride and I was asking him a bunch of questions about emotions the other day and he knew all of them.
Child 29: She’s a quiet one. I think her and Elif used to be good friends but then something happened because they seem to have some issues. She’s also petrified of the cinema / theater room. She actually started crying and would not go in at all. Poor girl. She gets her stuff done though and likes giving hugs as well. She never really causes any problems. If anything, the only thing that I would complain about is that sometimes she doesn’t want to participate.
Child 30: This child I don’t even know how to explain. Very strange child. She’s happy in the morning, but as the day goes on she listens less and less and less. She can be very mean at times too. For no reason she’ll break someone’s crayon or rip their paper, but then other times she’ll be very nice and help Emin cut stuff out. If she decides she’s done she’ll run around, and there is absolutely no getting through to her. You can have an angry face on and be very stern and she’ll just look back at you with a kind of sinister-I-don’t-care-about-anything-you’re-saying smile, dance around some more, and there’s nothing in her eyes. Even when you make eye contact with her it’s like staring into nothing. Very strange. She’ll be happy then all of a sudden if you look at her and ask her to do something or a question she’ll put on the meanest face as if you did something horrible to her. I don’t understand her one bit.
Child 31: This one is an old in a little girl’s body. She knows a lot and wants to learn. She’s gets bored of simple things like coloring and the like and wants to do actual learning. Sometimes though she’ll get into an odd mood and won’t participate at all. It’s pretty odd. She doesn’t want to do “kid” things. She’d prefer to sit and work in a workbook than to sit and play with the toys that all the other five year olds are happily playing with.
Child 32: He is quiet but he also misbehaves. If the Turkish teacher wasn’t in the room with me, I know that he would cause me problems. Once in a while he’ll answer questions, but more often than not he doesn’t pay attention and seem uncomfortable / not to care about the class. He would much rather mess around in the corner than sit at the table and learn stuff it seems.
All in all, I really do love all my children that have. Even though many of them cause me immeasurable amounts of grief and will more than likely be the cause of my first white hair, when they tackle hug me or even just smile I can’t help but love them more and more each day. I love watching them grow everyday too. I’m not talking about physically growing, I mean intellectually. It is interesting to see what they know now as opposed to what they knew the middle of September. I may not see the daily progress that they make, but I definitely see improvements as the weeks go on. I can’t explain to you how happy that makes me.
So far, this week has been quite lackluster. We came in on Monday expecting there to be students in the kindergarten school, but there weren’t. When we asked where they were our coordinator seemed just as confused as we were, and the response that we got was a confused shrug and an, “I don’t know. Maybe on Thursday they’ll come in to meet some teachers.” Well, it is now Friday and we have yet to meet or observe any of our students. We did, at least, learn what years and classes we would be teaching. I have the pleasure of teaching classes 6B, 6D, and shared lessons for 5C. This means that I will have two six year old classes and one five year old class. In reality though, I will be with five and four year olds because they are all about a year younger than they say they are. The shared lesson should be interesting. During a shared lesson, the Turkish teacher and the English teacher come together to create a combined lesson; it’s usually done with a story but in the case of the five year olds’ class it’ll probably be arts and crafts of sorts. For example, if there is a book that we want to read to the children, the Turkish teacher will introduce what the book is about to the children (not tell the story in Turkish) then the English teacher would read the book to the students, and then, finally, the Turkish teacher would finish up the lesson by asking the students about the book and such. Seems like a neat idea, right? Well, we shall see. Apparently, last year, there were a lot of complaints about the shared lessons because the Turkish teachers just saw it as a time that they didn’t have to do anything, and, at times, they wouldn’t even show up to the shared lessons. I’m hoping it won’t be like that this year.
I’ll have twenty-six teaching hours (an hour over the twenty-five I should have which means I’ll get paid a little extra yippieeee!!!) this term: eleven hours with 6B, eleven hours with 6D, and four hours with 5C. We have been told that we will start our actual observations next week Monday thru Wednesday and then we will start our lessons on Thursday and Friday. I am interested to see how this actually pans out. Not going to lie, I am a bit nervous to start teaching since I’ve never done it before. At least the classes aren’t too large. Both of my six year old classes have four girls and eight boys. Hopefully, I’ll be able to handle that many boys. Crossing my fingers that they’ll all be little angels but who am I kidding? I should prepare myself for thirty-two crazy, little devils!
I’m learning that lesson plans are hard and time consuming. They become slightly easier with the more of them that you come up with, but in a way they also become a bit harder; you don’t want to constantly repeat activities and have the class do the same things over and over again because then things become boring.
Only five more units to go!
I’m 75% done!
Also, I need to finish before July 11 because my tutor is going on vacation from July 11th – 29th! Kicking my butt into high gear. The only problem that I have is my current job and the fact that I’ve constantly been on the schedule. Going to pay the extra $50 as well so that I can get the certificate in 2-3 days after I complete the course instead of 2-3 weeks. I need to find a job as soon as possible, especially since I have a feeling that getting my work visa is going to be a headache and a half…