Teaching real students.
02/19/2010 - 02/26/2010 90 °F
Half way done and a whole night to play. It’s definitely a work hard, play hard situation here. When everyone is able to come up for air at the same time we all hit the town. The whole crew goes out together. Very cool. Everyone wants everyone else to be there. That still amazes me. No cliques in our group. I can’t really remember where we went Friday night ... probably Musik and Bamboo Jam and maybe a couple of other places. I remember I got home at 4 A.M. If I don’t get home until 4 A.M. I’m having a REALLY good time. I always have a good time with this crew.
It was a busy weekend here (not just because of all the clubbin’). I signed up for Facebook so I could keep track of all the people I’m meeting here. Everyone who knows me was shocked by that move. I’ve done quite a bit of Facebook bashing over the last couple of years. I will not friggin’ Twitter though! I gotta draw the line somewhere. Facebook turned out to be a pretty good idea. People at school were quoting some of my blog back to me, especially if I made a comment directed specifically at them. I kinda like this blogging gig, especially since I have something to say lately. Also on the technology front, I was miraculously able to find someone on Skype at the same time I was on Skype. Mandy and I chatted for awhile. It was great to see that familiar little face again. On the other hand she was drinking good wine right in front of me. Usually I can slurp down half a bottle of the good stuff she keeps in her apartment before she notices. Tough to do over Skype though. She also showed me my awesome TV (She's babysitting it for me) ... there’s a Hello Kitty on it. That’s not right. Could someone in San Francisco go over to Mandy’s place and get the Hello Kitty off of my TV? Thanks.
We got a new room mate here at la casa de Yorleny. Viola is from Germany and is taking Spanish classes at COSI for a few weeks. Nice girl. Big pretty blue eyes that get bigger and prettier when she wants to use my computer. She mostly hangs out with the other Daniel here and the crew from COSI. The other Daniel, by the way, left. He left his COSI class early and went back to Southern California. It was a pretty sudden move so we were all surprised. He was supposed to take the TEFL class after I was done. I hope I didn’t scare him off with all my groaning about the TEFL class work load.
This week I had to do two lessons, one on Monday and one on Thursday. Monday would be my first solo teaching gig. My lesson plan was approved on the previous Friday so most of the work was already done. I just needed to prepare all my teaching materials and practice my lesson plan. I was teaching pre-intermediate students how to use “so” and “because”. It probably would have been beneficial for me to learn how to use “so” and “because” before I tried to teach it. Of course I know how to use the words and I had a good lesson plan for teaching them to the pre-intermediate students but while I was explaining the grammar something went wrong. Have you ever just completely choked? That’s what I did. I stood there at the white board confused about when to use “so” or “because” for what seemed like half an hour (it was more like ten seconds). In that “half an hour” I was taking a beating from my inner dialog. Here’s some excerpts ... “You have got to be friggin’ kidding me, dude.” “You are the biggest idiot I know of.” “I wonder if they notice I’m choking.” I can't repeat the rest of the stuff I said to myself. Somehow I pulled it together and plowed through the lesson. I was pretty much P.O.’d at myself after it was over. The lesson was brutal to get through. Heidi (one of the instructors) had to talk me down when she was giving me feedback. “Won’t you step back from that ledge my friend ...” Third Eye Blind? Turns out my lesson wasn’t as bad as I thought. Apparently I did some things well. On top of that there were three raw beginners in the class who tended to just stare at me like I was nuts. Chalk that performance up to first lesson jitters and an odd mix of student abilities.
A typical TEFL lesson plan goes like this:
- Warmer: A little exercise to get the brain cranking in English, usually a little game to loosen them up and get them speaking in English.
Vocabulary Elicit: Introduce new vocabulary. Elicit vocabulary from students using pictures, gestures.
Vocabulary Check for Understanding: An exercise used to make sure the students understand and retained the new vocabulary.
Listening Activity: Students listen to a dialog or paragraph read by the teacher. Focus on listening for the new vocabulary. Read to each other.
Grammar Point: Explain new grammar.
Grammar Check for Understanding: An exercise to see if students understand the new grammar.
Communicative Activity: Put the new vocabulary and grammar together in an exercise designed for maximum student talk time.
At the same time we are preparing and delivering lessons we are also required to observe other students while they teach and provide constructive feedback. Everyone has a different style. It’s fun to watch all the personalities that we’ve come to know so well take on the teacher quality. Sometimes it’s tough to remember that we’re supposed to be providing constructive feedback. I tended to want to just sit back and enjoy the show.
My second lesson was at Spa Uno in Manuel Antonio. We get to go to a swanky spa and teach the therapists English. It’s a nice change from hanging around the school all day. This lesson was the complete opposite of my first lesson. In the first lesson I did more stuff right than I thought I did. In the second lesson I did more stuff wrong than I thought I did. The stuff I did wrong was mostly minor and easily correctable though. Apparently I did something out of order (see TEFL lesson plan above). I had no idea until Heidi told me about it after the lesson. The students at Spa Uno are pre-intermediates. Usually there are three or four of them but on this day all of the therapists were busy doing their job when it was time for me to teach so the receptionist became my one and only student. The receptionist just so happens to be a bit of a pistol. That’s a good fit for me. We got along great during the lesson. For my warmer I put a bunch of facts about myself on a little white board and she had to figure out what the facts meant ... blue, Amy, Sara, San Francisco, Jeep, Brown. She got all of them except brown. I said brown was the color of my hair. She said my hair was not brown. Cheeky girl. Heidi was laughing it up in the background. She should have been focusing more on her job if you ask me. I quickly moved on to the next part of the lesson to avoid hearing what else she had to say. The lesson went well. After we were through my lone student told me that I was a good teacher. She’s my favorite student now despite the “your hair isn’t brown” comment. After hearing that I was a good teacher I really saw no reason to get Heidi’s feedback. I did it anyway. By the way I was teaching my cheeky student how to use the word “do” in the context of a client questionnaire. Do you want the Ylang Ylang hair treatment? Do you have any allergies? Do you mind if I pull your hair out by the roots?
Cool. Two lessons done this week. I had to prepare another lesson for approval by Friday at noon. The work never really ended. If I didn’t keep doing something I would dig myself a hole that would be difficult to climb out of. The lesson plan for Monday was a pain in the butt to pull together. I had to teach countable and uncountable nouns to upper intermediate students. I just couldn’t get the lesson plan right for one reason or another. Danielle kicked my lesson plan back to me twice for revisions. She got a healthy dose of frustrated Dan that day. Poor girl. The solution to my problem turned out to be pretty simple. I think my brain was just cooked ... it wasn’t firing on all cylinders. The lesson plan was approved Friday afternoon around 4:00. This weekend I would have to prepare for the approved Monday evening lesson and prepare another lesson plan for approval on Monday at noon.
Three weeks down. One to go. The one to go is going to be a boat load of work. Two lessons, observing other teachers, preparing and administering a test, preparing a resume ... blah blah blah. Maybe I’ll go out with the crew tonight and relax a little. Most definitely I will go out with the crew tonight.