Now I have to clarify first that it wasn’t an entire lesson, only 35 mins of a lesson. Nevertheless, I did still teach on this course for the first time. I’ve got so many emotions swimming through me that it’s taken me a long time to write this up. But I’ll start from the beginning, I guess!
On Friday last week my college mentor and I were discussing how I should get started on teaching soon and the best way to do this would be to break me in gently. The plan was to start off today by doing a starter activity for the class for simply 10-15 mins. That wasn’t a problem and suited me fine. So I spent the weekend planning and and the rest of the week cutting out coloured paper and choosing quotes from the relevant poems.
Come today’s delivery, I realised in the first 5 seconds of opening my mouth that I had already botched it up! 😦 I was going a little too quickly and although I explained the task twice, I did talk over students instead of having complete silence to make sure they had all understood me. But having said that, the students got on with the task and there were some interesting discussions between them.
However, what I didn’t anticipate was that the task would take so long. Watching them doing the task was painful; I was very aware of my early mistakes and how the effects were evident in the student’s pace of work. I verbally spoke to the class and tried to speed things along and made sure to visit each table to encourage them to move on. At one point, when I saw it had already hit 20 mins, I went up to my mentor and apologised for taking up his lesson time. He was ok with it, said he didn’t mind and in fact expected that my task would take up more than 15 mins.
So in the end, what I had hoped would be an enjoyable and quick teaching experience turned into something very painful. I kept looking at the time and telling the students repeatedly to move onto the next part of the task. When my section of the lesson was over and I handed the students back to my mentor, I was very much relieved, and for all the wrong reasons
However, as the rest of the lesson continued I got voluntary feedback from some of the students and they were awfully sweet about it; to them I hadn’t messed it up. I only saw my mistakes because they were my own. To them, it was just another starter. Which is a positive, but not enough to comfort me. Yet, two students in particular made sure to tell me more than once how much they enjoyed the task; it had been a long time since they had done anything so fun. THIS most certainly warmed my heart and made me feel much better.
After the lesson ended, my mentor and I sat down to discuss the areas I need to work on and what I did well. He commented on my strengths but I wasn’t at all surprised by the weaknesses mentioned. But thankfully I have a chance to ‘redeem’ myself, so to speak; I will be repeating this starter with another class on Monday but will have the chance to improve it. So today was almost a dress rehearsal but the final act will be the real deal.
In short, although there were a few things that I know went wrong, it was still an enjoyable experience. I got to see the students work together, got to know some of them, laugh with them and observed which students were weak and strong. Today was almost a blind test as I had little knowledge of each individuals current level. But from here on, with this particular class at least, I know where to re-start.
Funny incident of the day:
Went into a new class today and didn’t really have a chance to be introduced to them. But the students could see by my lanyard that I was staff so they left me alone. The class were to watch a film adaptation of their course book on the whiteboard, but there was too much light coming in through the windows. The teacher then improvised and decided to have all 12 of us huddle round his computer monitor to watch it instead.
I being short, had to find somewhere to stand/sit so that I could see it too. The girls found seats where they could and the boys scrammed to the front for the best seats. Then suddenly I became the focus of attention for a few of the boys and one said to his friend “Ah look at you man, taking up a seat without offering it to Miss first.” The boy being told this was very short himself (poor thing) so he was concerned about being able to see anything. Yet he still offered his seat to me. But the one berating his friend wasn’t moving a muscle
I let the short one know he didn’t have to move, and the look of both relief and embarrassment on his face made me smile.