Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One week of Teaching: Reflections of a New Teacher

I have now reached my one week teaching mark.

I can honestly say I feel exponentially more comfortable and prepared for my classes than I was even a week ago. In this short window there have been a couple of lessons that I have been forced to learn pretty quickly:

Lily and Diana
1. Keep it Simple (Stupid): it's classic because it's true. No need to complicate classes by varying the routine every day. By keeping it simple (Hello's, names on board, date today, weather, check homework, give out points, teach lesson, play game), the kids know what to expect of me, and reward me by not going bonkers.

2. Take it slow: This is a lesson I should have remembered from my days in french class. It was reinforced by Melissa when she was training me. No matter how simple the material seems to me, or how repetitive the 10 or 15 vocabulary words may be in a lesson, one can never move too slowly. If a unit in the book is 6 pages long, I will go through 3 pages in one lesson. When I move any faster I can tell the material is not learned as well as it should be.

3. Rewards: A democratic reward system is the single biggest motivator of children. It is amazing to see how much kids will perk up when you entice them with "Points" (me marking a line on the board beside their name). At the school that I work, points go towards "Stamps" that they collect over the month. Stamps, in turn, go towards "Talking Club Dollars" which can be redeemed for toys and candy every three months. The kids love it, and will do  anything I say when 'Points' are hanging in the balance!

4. Trouble Makers: My glorious epiphany in punishment came only yesterday. I have a class of a girls, with one boy who is the trouble maker. He literally has spent all of his class just doodling, speaking korean (which is not allowed), with a little bit of aversion to authority mixed in. So yesterday I wrote "n o k o r e a n" on the board, and told the class that every time I heard Korean being spoken, I would cross out one of the letters. If all were crossed out by the end of class, no one would get any points. The next time the boy spoke Korean, I began crossing off letters. The girls YELLED at him, thus taking the disciplining out of my hands and into my students. Problem Solved.

I still make many mistakes, but these shortcuts I have realized in my week of teaching make the job SO much easier! I have more time to joke around with the students and worry less about classroom management each time.

I also found out that the staff room at my school has daily stocked baked goods! Best. Discovery. Ever.


  1. i love this post... especially your "no korean" tactic... amazing!

  2. sounds like you would make an awesome teacher. just think of the best tactics of our blythwood faves :)