Saturday, September 27, 2008


I have three classes of my own now, with a fourth coming relatively soon, and a fifth approaching some time after that.  On Mondays I have an M2 class.  There are 10 kids registered for the class, and the youngest two are are about five years old.  The oldest is probably around seven.  There's a pretty wide range of what they've learned so far and how they learn best, and it's a bit of a challenge to accommodate them all.  We play a lot of games.  The rule for M classes and K classes particularly is to play more games than not.  Any time the kids are sitting in their seats is time they might not be learning.  The games get them up and running around and engaged (usually) in the topic at had.  One of the hardest things about my M2 class is that one of the students is very bright and gets bored easily, and one of them is alternately very quick and very slow and hates being touched or encouraged.   Making room for these two to learn what I have to teach is sometimes frustrating, but I've only had 4 classes with them, so it is, as the saying goes, early days.  If anyone has any advice, I'd be delighted to hear it.

On Wednesdays I have a K1 class.  It's a larger class, with 15 kids registered.  The youngest is probably around seven, and the oldest is more like eleven or twelve.  She seems a little embarrassed all the time to be in a K1 class.  This is the easiest class I have.  Everyone is happy to be there, more or less, and everyone thinks I'm hilarious.  We got a new student last week, and she was shy enough that Elegance (the Sanchong school manager) was worried about whether she'd do alright in the class.  But after the first hour she was laughing at me with the rest of them, and during the break she joined the rest of the kids trying to sneak up on me while I wrote on the white board.  Both my K1 and my M2 seem to really enjoy varying decibels.  When we drill words or letters, I say it in a normal tone of voice and have them repeat it ("A /a/ apple!").  If they're not paying attention, I drop to a whisper, say it again, and have them repeat it in a whisper.  Once they've all whispered back correctly, the reward is shouting the pattern at the tops of their tiny lungs - which gets pretty loud.  I may need to invest in earplugs one of these days.  They love it.  And it keeps their attention on me and on the topic at hand.

My A3 class, on Saturdays, is easily the most difficult for me.  There are so far only five kids in the class, although there are seven registered.  They all sit several seats away from each other, and they're all pretty quiet.  The youngest is eleven, and the oldest two are about fourteen.  There are two girls and three boys, and it's difficult coming up with activities to keep them interested.  One of the boys is clearly at a level higher than that from which the class starts, but the student at the lowest level can barely understand me when I ask a question.  The class goes for three hours, and I have no co-teacher (she's on vacation in Canada for the next couple of weeks).  I'm going to have to come up with some way of engaging them.  Again, any ideas are welcome.

My two upcoming classes are an A4 that starts very soon, either this week or the next, and an M1 class that is waiting for another couple of students to register.  


Hobbes said...

I are unfortunately college-level instructor with specified knowledge to teaching introductory programming. But the first part of that qualification means that if they don't get it in class, it's their responsibility to go get it on their own, so as far as making sure everyone understands, I'm not going to be much of a help :P

Aunt Sue said...

Hi Rowan, your Aunt Sue here. You have just described what every teacher in every classroom has to deal with. Two ideas, remember for the bright ones, that they have been taught to be bored. In other words, you have to unteach it (always harder than the initial teaching) If not challenged ask them questions that encourage them to challenge themselves, as challenge comes from within. Ex. If you understand this, how can you make it harder for yourself. What more do you want to find out about it. How do you think you could go about that. Add all the question marks I skipped (No one said I was a perfect teacher). I just thought another one for the game thing.... Can you think of a game that could teach this same topic? Teaching something brings the topic to a higher cognition. I'm rambling.