Monday, March 14, 2011


First-day jitters got me waking up earlier than usual this morning. My job at YB starts at 3:30PM today, but it's a one-hour drive to the school and I want to be there at 1PM, when they actually open, to do my lesson planning and talk over pacing with my bosses.

I didn't do so well during the training session; the school asks you to teach groups of three students who are (1) at three different levels of achievement/skill and (2) learning three different subjects. Each tutoring session is a two-hour block, so you normally see nine students a day over the course of six hours. Hagwon style, for sure, and very confusing for us old folks.

Since the 3:1 student/teacher format holds throughout the day, and since you're likely to have different students every day, this means nine lesson plans per day, which is a lot, to put it mildly. The up-side is that the plans are pretty modular, pretty mix-and-match, so it's usually just a matter of finding the right modules for the right students and plugging them into the plan (homework is just as modular). After that, it's a matter of going from student to student, rotating the tutoring, so that all the students are getting steady face time with the teacher.

What went wrong during training this past Saturday-- we trainees role-played teachers and students-- was that I spent too long with one student; even though the other two had been given work to keep them busy, I was supposed to check in on them frequently. This is very different from 1:1 teaching, where you can focus on a single student, and it's also different from classroom teaching, where all the students are working on the same subject.

It's going to be a rocky start, I think. I came away from Saturday stressed out of my mind and dreading today. I'm hoping that the day goes more easily than Saturday did, and that I get used to the fast pace of instruction. If it turns out that I can't adapt, that I've become an old dog who can't learn new tricks after years of being pampered in Korea (well, pampered during those final three years), I may have to rethink my immediate future.

Don't mind me. As I said: first-day jitters.


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