Monday, November 10, 2008

teacher america!

9 November 2008
TEACHER AMERICA! Well, some of the kids finally understood that we are not English, but Americans. One of Marina’s students who wanted to be called to answer a question yelled out, “Teacher America!” to get her attention.
Teaching practicum did not kill me as I once thought it might. It was a great learning experience where all the TEFL’s received very practical teaching experience. Most of us have never taught in a classroom, lesson planned, or dealt with classroom management. It was a very good thing to do. It started off rather pis, but ended up nice.
There are many reasons why teaching was so hard at first. First reason was Armenian Terror as my first lesson. The lesson is blatant propaganda. This is not to say that horrors and terror did not happen in that area, but it is a sad thing that such things end up in a textbook. Then again, most history textbooks are no better. It was sad teaching words like “massacre,” “gun,” and “violence.”
Second, the English teachers here have never really heard a native English speaker. They could barely understand us or much less what was going on. Third, I underplanned the lesson. I ran out of things to do with 20 minutes left to kill. Third, I completely overestimated the students’ English ability.
Luckily teaching became much easier with each day. By the third day of practicum, I knew how to work a classroom. Unfortunately, you can easily feel out a classroom. No matter then grade, it is easiest to work on a fifth form level, especially when speaking. These kids have never heard a native speaker, and their teachers translate EVERYTHING in Azerbaijani in the same breath they read the English texts.
Another thing is that these books are completely horrible. The Armenian Terror lesson is in the eighth form book. The lesson starts with talking about 9-11, then it moves on to “Don’t smoke,” and finishes with Armenian terror. Unfortunately this is one of the more organized lessons. On a whole I like working with the younger forms. The fifth form gets so excited about participating and learning. Seeing their smiles makes it worth going back into the classroom.
Practicum was two weeks long. It was just long enough to get the hang of it. I can now effectively lesson plan. I feel confident in front of the classroom. I know I can do somewhat classroom management, but that is why there is the counterpart too.
Seeing my cluster teach, I know that we will all do something great during our PC service. I cannot wait to see what we all achieve.
One month remains of training, then these Teacher America’s will head out to our permanent site.