Last week I had to do a practice open class – this means that I had to teach a class (two classes, actually), while all three of my bosses watched. It was nerve wrecking, to say the least. The night before I couldn't sleep I was so worried about messing up, or about them deciding that I was actually a terrible teacher and sending me home.
When I finally got into my first open class (with Apricot, the four year olds) I was a wreck. Luckily, it was just Debbie that was watching me, Mr. and Mrs. Kim had been caught up in something and couldn't make it. The lesson was about fruits – the kids were learning to say 'I like bananas' or 'I like apples', etc. Everything was going fine until Lukas interrupted me – he pointed out the window and said, “Teacher, look! Helicopter!”
I just got this feeling of 'uh oh'. I knew I had seconds to get the class back on task before the lot of them (eight kids now!) were pressing their little noses against the windows and completely ignoring me. Because, come, who can compete with a helicopter? I asked Lukas “Can you EAT a helicopter?” they all started giggling and saying 'no, teacher!' and we were back on track.
Even though I was freaking out, the whole thing went rather well. When I was talking about it afterwards with Debbie, she said that I was a natural with the kids (although when she first said it, I thought it was a criticism because the way Debbie says things, sometimes its hard to tell). She also mentioned when Lukas interrupted and I was expecting criticism about letting him distract the class but she said she was impressed with the way I handled it. She said that I managed to bring the class back without scolding Lukas for speaking up. Since these are four year olds, the feeling is they should be free to express themselves.
The second class was more harrowing because I had all three of them (Debbie, Mr. and Mrs. Kim) watching me. The kids were great though (this was Kiwi class, the five year olds) and did their best to repeat what I was saying. This was a problem when I forgot a month of the year. We were doing a lesson on the months and I was writing them up one by one when Debbie and Mrs. Kim started laughing. I was wondering what was so funny and I stopped but they didn't say anything so I started to keep going until Debbie said “May?”
I looked at the board and it went from April to June without anything in between. I was mortified. I swear I know the months of the year! I felt like telling them, I passed kindergarten, I swear!
Despite this, that class, too, went well. Debbie didn't even mention my mistake in the meeting after. I hope she understood I was just super nervous.
Either way, that was just the dry run.
On Tuesday, I had the real thing with Kiwi class and I had to have conferences with their parents afterwards. Everything went well - I didn't forget any months this time - except that I was too fast. I only did about 15 minutes. This seemed to bother me more than anybody else, however. Either that or they were too polite to bring it up, which would be very typically Korean of them.
I got to meet the Kiwi kid's parents, which was an interesting experience. For the most part they were great and not many of them spoke English. Most of the questions were relayed to me through my co-teacher, Lynn, and back again. Lynn asked all the parents, in Korean, if they have questions for me. One parent, whose kid is one of the biggest behavior problems in the class and is having the most trouble learning English, turned to me and asked, “How is my son's behavior in your class?” in perfect, unaccented English. Someone should check the mailman.
Tomorrow (My birthday! ~_~) I have to do the Apricot Open Class. This one I am less worried about because they are four and not much could possibly be expected of four year olds. Plus I am way more comfortable with them then with Kiwi.
I am really interested in meeting Apricot parents, too. Abby's mother is there every day, but her husband is coming and apparently they lived in Farifax, VA, for a while. I want to talk to them about that. The new girl, Clare's, parents spoil her rotten and write notes to Lynn on a daily basis about what she does at home and asking for updates from school. Lukas' mother apparently likes me, if last month's Lukas-getting-scratched-in-the-face episode was any indication. Kris' sister goes to our school, too, but I've never met her. I'd just like to see what kind of people spawned such a devious little creature. Kevin's mother was here for a while being lunch lady so I've met her and she seems pretty nice. Paul's brother is just as much of a sweetheart as he is – I have him in one of my later classes – so I'm very interested in meeting people who raised such awesome human beings. All in all, it’s going to be an interesting day.
On that note, I leave you with this, which I thought of when the Helicopter incident happened. This guy is a teacher and a spoken word poet and all his pieces are amazing. If you choose to browse further I would recommend 'like, you know?' and 'what teacher's make'. Or this one which I just watched that gave me goosebumps.