A Change of Pace

Over the last nine months, I’ve taught Beginner, Elementary, and Pre-Intermediate classes. These classes are generally the largest in the program with regard to student number or class size going anywhere from thirty to sixty in one level. Because the class sizes are so large, it’s necessary to have two teachers co-teaching the level, sometimes even three. This results in one class having an average of around twenty students. Last term, I had twenty-six students in one class.

The good thing about co-teaching is that there is collaboration between colleagues and the workload is essentially halved. Each unit is split into two between the teachers — grammar and skills — and we see two different classes per day, but we teach the exact same lesson twice.

This term, I’m teaching the Intermediate level. The Intermediate level, in contrast with the lower levels, has very few students which means that having two teachers is not necessary. The reason there are so few students is because these are the students who will be going on to do their master’s degrees with the university, whereas the majority of our students stop after completing the Pre-Intermediate level to start their bachelor’s degree.

Currently, I have eleven students. This is a very big change from the previous twenty-six. This means that I see the same students all day, morning and afternoon. This also means that I have to plan two separate lessons for each day — one for the morning and one for the afternoon. I don’t have a co-teacher, so everything is up to me and at my own pace.

After the first week, I find that it’s a lot more relaxed with the exception of having to plan twice as much as normal. Having a smaller class makes it more intimate, I can give more attention to each student, and not to mention marking eleven test papers beats marking twenty-six test papers every week. So it’s basically more work and less work at the same time.

It’s a nice change of pace, though. I feel more motivated teaching a smaller class because it’s definitely a lot easier in terms of classroom management. I’m also glad I get to teach all the levels before my contract ends. I think it rounds off my experience here quite nicely.

Respire

These last few weeks have felt like most of my students have been in a competition to see who could get me to pull my hair out first. It’s felt like no amount of patience and breathing would be enough to bear their shenanigans. I got through the term with my sanity intact and grateful for the non-teaching week.

I’m thankful for the challenges because I know that in the long run, all of this culminates in my becoming a better teacher. I also realised that I became frustrated simply because I care about them and I feel that they are capable of so much more than what they give themselves credit for. It frustrated me to see them wasting away their chances at genuine learning and improvement and resorting to cheating in tests just so they can make the mark and pass.

There are days when I feel like I’m a terrible teacher who isn’t making any sort of gain or difference in these kids’ lives–I call them kids even if they’re technically adults already–and then I’ll receive a message from one of them expressing gratitude and telling me how I have made a difference. That’s when I know that the trials are worth it. If I can reach one in a dozen, maybe I’m doing something right.

I was meant to be a teacher. It wasn’t always evident, but I know now that this is where I’m supposed to be. Maybe not forever, but for now.