Saturday, June 07, 2008

Small joys of teaching

Today was a good day in one of my classes. The class ended with a 6 year old boy crying. Now I'm sure you are confused. How can this be a good thing? But really, it is.

So I know I've mentioned before but I have several classes of kids who used to live in America. This year I was able to split them up into three classes arranged closer to age and ability. So I have a nice class of 6 year olds who used to live in America. Their English is good, but not perfect. I have two who have recently moved back from America. They speak well and have a good vocabulary. They are also very good at doing worksheets etc. One is a bit shy if he has to talk in front of everyone, but as soon as you take the pressure off he will chat away to himself in English. The other girl just talks happily away. The other two don't talk as much. The one boy was younger when he was in America and did not attend school in America. So he has pretty good listening, but he has trouble talking and writing. But usually he's ok with that. I usually find him in his own little world, and have difficulties getting him to do his work. He's usually not interested. Before this year, he was too young for the combined returnee class, but too good for a class his own age. So we had put him in a regular class with older boys. (they had gotten along surprisingly well) but it wasn't the best solution.

So I've been wanting to get him more comfortable in English. In the past few months he has been getting more comfortable in the class, and the kids get along well with each other. Today for the first time, he really really tried to do his worksheet. The first page I was able to help him out and give him the hints he needed to do the work. But the second page was much harder. I was distracted by helping the other little girl do her work (she's new). But I was surprised when I suddenly found him in frustrated tears. Even while crying he kept trying to finish the sheet. Even though he couldn't understand what he was supposed to do. It's the first time I've seen him really WANT to learn, WANT to achieve something. It was wonderful! We worked together to finish the sheet (ignoring the parts he had done wrong...) and then went to see his mom so he could finish crying. I think she was a bit surprised, but also happy because it meant he cared. He quickly recovered and was smiling by the time his brothers class was finished.

I love watching kids grow! (good thing tears don't bother me so much, haha)

On a random note. I bought some workbooks for some of the older kids in America. I have a class with a 3rd grader, a 4th grader and a 6th grader. So I bought level appropriate books in America. (well, I did make a mistake and ordered a 4th grade book and a 5th grade book by accident, but it's ok, because both the 3rd grader and 4th grader are able to do work beyond their grade level) Today while they are doing their workbooks, I keep thinking that the 4th grade book is really hard for this kid. The 5th grade book seems too easy, and the 6th grade book is hard. So I was being asked lots of questions from the one boy, because his words were really hard. Finally (after about half the class) we noticed, two pages in his book were the exact same as the pages in the 6th grade book! Exactly! How strange is that? It must have been a printing error, but still. That's insane! This poor kid was trying to do these super hard words that were giving the 6th grader trouble! When I noticed, I told him he didn't have to finish the page. I instead made copies from the 5th grade book, which he was able to complete with no problems! How messed up is this? Since when are 5th grade books easier than 4th grade ones??? Good thing is, he's a good sport. I hope it starts to even out soon in those silly books...

Ah... I think I've become like a "real" teacher if this is what I come home and write about. Haha. But I really was happy about the crying boy today. It's exciting! I like watching students get into what they are studying. It's wonderful

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