Saturday, January 07, 2006

first week of class: an assessment

This past Monday was devoted to level placement interviews. That took several hours. It basically involved talking for about five minutes with student after student. Tedious but painless. The afternoon was devoted to an ad hoc faculty meeting to re-distribute courses to the teachers. The evening was spent madly planning lessons for the next day. I gave up on the idea of planning out the entire week, devoting myself instead to creating the course syllabi (overview calendars that indicate what we'll be doing each day), as well as Tuesday's lessons.

Tuesday, the first day of classes, went quite well. I was happy to see students from previous semesters enrolled in my 10AM intensive 2 class. Was especially happy to see one cute (but loud!) student. She's always a pleasure to teach: very aggressive about speaking, and about speaking her mind.

My other two classes, both Freshman English, went well. The 11:40AM class is composed of the lowest-level students; they proved easier to manage than the unruly crop I had during the fall Freshman English course. The 2PM class, composed of the highest-level students, was also quite enjoyable to teach. Some students in that class speak English with near-perfect fluency. The textbook, which we're using across all Freshman levels, is a joke for these girls.

I kept the classes going with mixer activities and pair/group work. Some students (in both Frosh classes) thought we were going too fast, so I slowed down a bit. The complaint no conversation teacher wants to hear is: "Not given enough time to speak," or "Speaking opportunities rather lacking." (Mal-hal gi-hwae-ga byeol-lo eop-da.)

Wednesday and Thursday were both very pleasant; I think we're still in the honeymoon period, so everyone's laughing at my jokes and getting to know each other. Check again in three weeks to see whether we're still yucking it up.

Ultimately, the students don't want The Kevin Show, much as I might be tempted to put such a show on. What they really want (and, in my opinion, need) is to learn how to work with each other and discover each other as people. The bonding should be fairly easy to accomplish: these girls are all graduating seniors about to enter Smoo. They are, in the Korean reckoning, each other's big and little sisters, bound together (especially if they share the same major) by the Korean concepts of seon-bae and hu-bae.

So the strategy is to be funny and welcoming until the students get used to each other. After that, it's up to them to carry the initial momentum forward through the rest of the term. For the Freshman English classes, the term is short: only five weeks. For the Intensive English classes, it's eight weeks. I'm not worried about the intensive-level students: they're adults, and mature enough to figure out the social niceties on their own.

I did a good thing, I think, by dividing the classes into project teams on the second day of class: every team will have the dubious honor of teaching a chapter out of the textbook-- something I've made my classes do before. One reason I assign this project is selfish: it gives students an idea of the planning that goes into teaching, and allows them to feel, just for an hour, what it's like to stand in front of a group of potentially critical people and soldier ahead, snide comments be damned. Another reason, though, is thoroughly pedagogical: it's true that you learn a lot more about something when you're obliged to teach it. The students may or may not be perceptive enough to see my reasoning; in truth, it doesn't matter whether they see it. They'll reap the benefits all the same.

The coolest thing about my work week, this term, is that I have Fridays off. The long weekend is a boon. Later this month, we get one day off for the lunar new year, and it's a Monday. That means I get a four-day weekend at the end of January. Sweet.

It's good to be back in action, though I still mourn the brevity of my vacation. I'm hoping that my next month-long vacation will be more relaxing... but I'm planning to hit France in June, for personal reasons, and that trip promises to be demanding, as I have to visit both the Nantes and the Strasbourg/Colmar regions-- and those are on opposite sides of the country.

One day at a time, though. Best to take these things one day at a time.


No comments:

Post a Comment


All comments are subject to approval before they are published, so they will not appear immediately. Comments should be civil, relevant, and substantive. Anonymous comments are not allowed and will be unceremoniously deleted. For more on my comments policy, please see this entry on my other blog.

AND A NEW RULE (per this post): comments critical of Trump's lying must include criticism of Biden's lying on a one-for-one basis! Failure to be balanced means your comment will not be published.