teaching difficulties

December 19, 2008 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

I wanted to write about some of the difficulties i’ve encountered teaching. I’ve already mentioned that i teach 4 classes, 3 of them on my own and 1 with another teacher. This co-teaching set-up is an experiment to see if having two teachers in a classroom will help students learn better. After two weeks i can affirm that it doesn’t. On the contrary, it denies teachers flexibility and intimacy with their students. In a class where i am the only teacher, i can spontaneously decide to change the course of the lesson if it’s not working out. I don’t have to justify my choices to anyone. But as a co-teacher, i have to always think about including the other teacher in the lesson and when i want to steer the lesson in a different way than originally planned, it becomes a challenge in itself to communicate the new approach to the other teacher and to get his approval (just to be democratic). Although my co is a very placid man, i sense that he feels betrayed by me when i do this, and since i don’t want to offend him, i’ll allow a lesson to continue despite the obvious realization (for me) that the students are hardly learning. In these situations i become very tense. 
 
Also since i am sharing these students i don’t feel the same attachment to them (and therefore the same interest in their progress) as i do for my other groups of students. I’m certain there is a ton or more of data invoking the psychological and historal reasons for my lack of initiative when it comes to sharing. I’ve tried to persevere but it’s just not benefiting the students.
 
When i reserve myself to the role of audience in the classroom (rather than as another teacher) Elie is able to connect with the students. Without my interruption of his technique he is able to expand on his ideas. And so i believe that the students would be better off having one of us as their teacher. There are 13 students and the best way would be to divide the students and give me half, and Elie the other half. But i think all the rooms in the school are full during this time. Either way i feel like somewhat of a failure for being unable to work together with Elie for the benefit of the students.
 
The other difficulty i have is this: I have a blind student in one of my upper classes. He’s been absent for a week because he got married so it wasn’t a problem before. With these students i like to discuss the new vocabulary words first, defining them and composing sentences as a group. Then i pair them off and ask them to discuss the pictures in the book using the new vocabulary. What can my blind student do if he can see neither the pictures nor the words we have just learned? If i pair him off with another student i feel i put the other student at a disadvantage because he cannot practice the new words. If i leave the blind student alone and work with him myself, i put all the other students at a disadvantage by not going around the room to listen to their conversations and correcting them. Many of the games i want to play with these students require being able to see the words. I have no idea how to adjust these games in order to include this student. I can’t just read the phrases outloud. I tried an exercise yesterday where the students had to listen and it bombed. I believe they need a mix of listening and seeing words to learn… Fortunately there will be a meeting tomorrow with several teachers from past semesters and i will ask for their advice.
 
I had something more interesting to write about but by the time i wrote the above the computer i was using froze, restarted, and shut down again. I HATE these computers. The one i transfered too just popped up a message that says: Time before shutdown:  00:36:37
 
And this is the best internet cafe in Phnom Penh. I miss having a personal computer.
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Mr. Cambodia childhood

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