Meet my new friend

In all my life, in pretty much everything I have done, I have had self-confidence. I don’t particularly think I am arrogant, but I have faith in myself that if I have prepared and organised my resources and time, I can complete any task/job I am expected to. Self-doubt, nerves, and panic are emotions that I am simply not used to!

Until now. 

Today was my first day as an English teacher. I had to teach 2 periods of English for conversation, both to Prathom 3 classes (9yr olds). I went into the room and I was as nervous as I ever remember being (Istanbul penalties included!) Seriously though, I felt a bit sick, I was shaking, it was nerves and panic all rolled into one. I have no idea how people can survive life this all the time. My respect level for anxious people has gone through the roof.

The two classes I had today did understand what I was saying. Considering how many times people have asked me to repeat myself since I got to Asia, I think this is a big step. I am really pleased. The repeated what I said clearly, no trace of a scouse accent (see, I told you I don’t really have one!) They could read what I had written on the board without me saying it out loud. I think that is reasonably successful, even if it is only introductions.

Despite this, I have no idea whether or not they learnt anything. They could repeat what I said clearly, they could read what I had written easily, and they could even intepret my shoddy drawings, but I don’t know if they understood what they were learning. I *taught* them brief introductory greetings, phrases, and questions, and matched the correct answers to the relevant questions, and they seemed to get it.

Well, I say they seemed to get it. When I asked each child individually what their name was, they did reply correctly, but then did they just get the jist from their friends. If they did just get the jist from their friends, does that matter when they give the correct answer? I have no idea how many of the class actually understood me.

When I asked a question and prompted the class for a response, the volume of the answers was distinctly lower than when I was assisting them with the answers. This is the root of my uncertainty as to whether they understood. Maybe they also suffer from the same self-doubt and don’t want to answr incorrectly. I was always willing to answer in school, so I don’t know if that is what is happening?

I sang today as well. Yes, me, Liz, sang in front of the whole class, and got htemn to repeat the lyrics/moves I was singing and doing. I think singing is a very big term, I was talking to a rhythm, and moves is generous too, it was more of a casual sway. They seemed to like singing, and were a little more responsive/vocal. Even during this though, I just don’t know whether they understand everything/anything. I think the singing keeps their attention better though, so I better improve the pipes :/

I am still really nervous about class management and discipline. I have no idea what to do when it comes to rowdy classes and disinterested children. I understand their plight, I never liked languages when I was in school, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am now on the end of the stick that must discipline. Figuratively of course, I’m not about to beat the students!n The clapping method, where the teacher claps and the students copy seems to get their attention pretty quick, and gets them involved, so is win win, but I feel like I am having to use it too much already.

I had a lot of free-time today, as I only teach 2 periods on a Monday, 17 periods per week. Not too bad, well except for the fact that teachers are in from 8am until 4pm. I know this free time in the future will be filled with marking and planning, making worksheets and devising songs, but for now, I think I might bring in a good book. Well, find one on my e-reader. Tomorrow is a much busier day, I teach 5 periods, so maybe I won’t need much stuff to fill my time. I don’t know, we’ll see.

Basically, I had no idea whether I would be able to do this and whether or not I would be a good teacher when I left home for school this morning. After a day here, I am just as lost wihtin self-doubt and anxiety. Will this change? Are they learning? Am I doing OK?

Ahhhh. Help.

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