Fidgets…

Hello all!

It’s been way too long since my last post for sure. The school year was beyond busy, crazy, emotional, and everything else you could imagine. I’ve been trying to relax this summer as much as I can since I know come August 3rd, I won’t see the light of day until the following June.

Teacher summers are never long enough! Now isn’t that the understatement of the year?

Now, like most teachers, I am not a fan of fidget spinners. They were a huge distraction this year and there were no observable benefits that I saw with the kids who did have them. They mostly just wanted to show them off.

I did, however, find an item that really kept my kids busy this year (or rather a set of items), was this IQ Challenge Set. I swear, even my most fidgety kids could sit for hours trying to get these puzzles together. Especially the cube. It kept their hands busy, and a few were even able to “play” with it during class. It worked for all ages as well. Normally, I teach 3rd grade, but I did tutoring after school and would have 2nd graders in my room. Both grades enjoyed them as well as the other students and siblings that would pop in the room. I even had some middle school siblings who would come in specifically just to try and figure these puzzles out.
I definitely need to order another set of these. This time though, I need to put each one in it’s own baggie labeled with what it is and perhaps how many pieces there should be to it.
I had a few students who figured out the sphere and the metal puzzle as well. Some got close to figuring out the cube, but, alas, they could not. Perhaps this year I will have a student who will be able to figure it out. Check them out for yourself in the link below!

I’ll keep you posted!

IQ Challenge


IQ Set

 
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Just to let you know…

Hello all!

I’ve recently made a TeachersPayTeachers (TpT) account (click here) and I would love if my fellow teachers would take a gander and follow me through there. Some products are free and most are low-cost! I’ll be updating frequently throughout the year as I create more products. I’ll be teaching a 2nd grade PYP ELL classroom, so I should have a multitude of products most being at the elementary level being uploaded as the year goes on. Message me if you have any requests! Let’s help one another out!

Thank you, and I will update soon! The school year is about to start and I am super excited!

Here’s the link once more:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Miss-Angelas-Classroom

First Year Completed

On 12th June 2014, I did what only six year old Angela thought I would do; I completed my first year of teaching. Though, I don’t think six year old Angela thought that she would be teaching half way across the world. I did it though. And not only did I complete one year of teaching at one place, but, a week and a half later, I completed my first year teaching at another place as well. Yes, you read correctly. I taught five days a week at my main school and I would also teach on Saturdays. I’ll get back to that later though.

It was definitely an experience filled with things I expected and things that I did not expect. As much as I absolutely loved my children (and still do), they beyond wore me out. Let’s get something out of the way here. In America, or in England, when one thinks of a private school automatically strict rules and discipline come to mind, right? Well, not here. A private school here, especially the one that I was teaching at which was a conservative (religious) private school is kind of the opposite. In these schools, the kids (or rather their parents) rule the school. The private schools in this country, for the most part, are nothing but businesses. They advertise and promote constantly creating a false sense of, “Wow! This school is amazing! My child will learn so much!” When, in reality, it’s not so much like that. There is a high turnover rate for teachers; especially for the English teachers. Everyone gets paid very little for the amount of work that they do, especially the Turkish teachers who not only work late every night, but who also must come in on the weekends as well. Aside from the fact that the turnover rate is high, these “schools” are also fairly new which means that they aren’t quite set in their ways. There are no set curriculums or curriculums that work. These are chain schools that could do really well if they focused on the actual education of these students and not when and where they’re going to open up a new school. If they focused their time, energy, and money on a school (and with the amount of money these schools have) the kids would flourish. The children that I taught have so much potential and I hope that it does not go to waste. Aside from all of this, the children are spoiled, never corrected or disciplined, and are free to essentially do whatever they please. In the beginning of the year, I was very close to quitting to be honest. The teachers who are there, though mostly lovely and nice women, don’t know how to handle children how they should. I don’t think they know the proper psychology behind everything and will constantly yell at the children (or certain children that annoy them) and call them names. Apparently though, that is the way that things are done here. When it came time for English class, though, they expected every lesson to be a strict lesson where we drilled English into their heads, but fun at the same time, and not boring, and make the children listen like little angels at the same time. Well, it took me almost half a year to corral the children and have it so they would actually sit down and listen in class. Being that they’re kindergarteners though, I knew that they also need fun time and play time or they get antsy and won’t listen. Why did it take this long? Well, in this school, like I said earlier, the children win. The English teachers are never or are rarely shown any respect by the other teachers or even the teacher assistants for that matter, so the children mimic that behavior. The children are also spoiled brats and we’re essentially not allowed to discipline them. This means that even if a child hits another child or throws toys or a temper tantrum that nothing really happens. There’s never a phone call home about it because then the parents would complain and yell at the teachers or the school because nothing is ever their little angels’ fault. So, yes, it took over half a year of different methods and straining and grief to finally get these children to listen.

Three-quarters of the year passed and we then had the huge problem where most of the English department was let go and all of our lessons were switched around. I no longer had my shared five year old class and I no longer had my 6D class.  Instead, I had 6A and 6C, which had reputations for making the teachers gray-haired. I tried my best though. Remember how long it took to get my other two classes to behave semi-normally and make them teachable? Well, I had half the time to try and do this. At first, they were ok, because, hey new teacher. But then, things became ugly. 6A was split between me and another teacher. They tended to listen to her more because she’s a bit more strict in her manners of teaching (not to mention she’s Turkish so she better at handling them) and I was just the teacher that they could walk all over some classes and other classes, if they felt like it, they’d listen and things would go smoothly. One of the main problems with that class though was that the room was too big. It was hard to get the children to focus in there. 6C was an interesting class. This is the class with the worst reputation. In the beginning, they listened. They knew practically no English whatsoever, but they listened. I was starting to wonder why they were the class that had such a bad reputation. But then, it hit me, and it hit me hard. This class will not listen to a lick of what is said if their homeroom teacher is unable to teach and the longer she is out (and she was out for like two weeks due to meetings and organizing things) the worse the class becomes. They just had a complete disregard for any authority figure (even the assistant teachers had had enough of this class and sat there in a state of utter defeat). So, I would try to teach every time, and I would fail every time. The only thing that seemed to work with this class was busywork. So, I had to have an endless supply of worksheets for these children. When I did, they’d do their work and listen…mostly. It felt like I was at the beginning of the year again with these two classes. And it didn’t get better because, as it was the end of the year, the classes were constantly interrupted for field trips, shows, or practices of some sort. So, there was no real schedule anymore. The children and the teachers all caught the end of the year fever. And then, just as quickly as it began…it finished. It was a sandwich of a year; crazy, hair pulling bread and smooth happiness for the inside.

I know I made a lot of progress with the children though. I am not the kind of teacher who drills phrases into the kids’ heads. I know that the children’s parents want to hear them speak, but they’re not at the age where they need to be learning phrases. They’re at the age that they just need to soak in as much English as they can. The drenched them in vocabulary and by the end of the year, some of them were starting to put things together on their own. Even half way through the year, I was getting some of them to have conversations. Albeit very one-sided conversations, they were understanding the things that I was saying and trying to respond with a few words and lots of gestures.

It was harder with my weekend children to get to this point though as they only had English lessons once a week. Finally, towards the end of the year, they were starting to understand some things and become more confident. The only problem I had with these children was the age differences. I had children from four to seven in this class. This meant that I had kids who could read and write and others who still can’t write numbers. It was a challenge, but three quarters of the year later I started teaching them all the English alphabet and the phonetics that went with it. It made for some more interesting classes and the children really seemed to like learning about it. Big numbers and the alphabet seemed to be a hit in that class.

All in all, it was one hell of a year. I taught and I fought and I taught some more. As much as these children drove me nuts, I love them all. There’s something special and unforgettable about your first students. They and the memories that I made with them will last a lifetime. I wish that I could check up on all of them in ten, fifteen, twenty years and see where life takes them, but only time will tell. This year is finished and new adventures await!

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Week 2

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!

Making progress…

Now that finals and graduation are out of the way, I have been able to make some headway on my TEFL units. I have just finished Unit 7 and I am waiting on Unit 8 to arrive, which means that I am 35% done since there are 20 units altogether. It may not seem like much, but on days that I am not working at my new waitressing job in town, I can sometimes power through these lessons. The company only allows two units per day, but they do this so the student can let the lessons sink in. I would have to say that having studied a variety of languages in the past is actually helping me through some of these units. Because I have had a few years of different language courses, it is easy for me to pick up and learn the tenses since I have heard and worked with these terms so many times before.  The same goes with lesson planning; I know what activities work for me and which ones do not. The tutor who goes over my units has been giving me very nice remarks on the work that I have done. Well, now I must wait for the next units to arrive. Perhaps I should study some Turkish in the meantime since it’s been awhile.

Dedicated to Mrs. Conroy

This little write up is in response to one of the questions on my TEFL worksheet:

“In my opinion, one of the most important qualities that a teacher must possess is a combination of being lively and enthusiastic and being able to lead her students to an understanding of the subject matter. This leads me back to my seventh grade Language Arts teacher who taught us all a valuable lesson. She used a demonstration of making a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich to show us how important it is to never skip over even what might seem like the simplest step in a process. She stood in the front of the room with a bag of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, a knife, and a plate. She then told us all to give her instructions on how to make the sandwich. It seemed easy enough to us.
One student said, “Put the bread on the plate.”
So, she picked up the loaf of bread, and placed it on the plate.
The kid then said, “No, no. Open the bag first, then put two pieces of bread on the plate.”
My teacher picked up the bag of bread and ripped open the bag, causing the bread to go all over. This resulted in the entire class exploding in laughter, but, nonetheless, it motivated us more. One can imagine how the rest of the lesson went; it was extremely messy and silly. At the end of the class though, a point had been made; never skip over a step, no matter how obscure or easy it may seem. This goes for teaching as well. In order to make sure that one’s students fully understand a subject, one has to be sure never skip over anything.”