Wow, last week was a baptism of fire! I went home Thursday afternoon and it took Trixie till 7, before she could convince me that a dog walk would actually be a good thing! Thank goodness for daylight saving! Until that point, I was comatose on the sofa trying very hard not to fall asleep! Needless to say it was a very short dog walk and I crashed into bed an hour later! Boy, did I sleep well!
I learnt so much last week and here is my summary:
Week 1 – what did I learn?
1. Don’t try to cram too much into a lesson. It’s much better to go slowly and deeply than complete everything in the lesson plan. Keep it simple, short and engaging.
2. Be confident and failing that, pretend to be confident!
3. Be consistent across all classes. I had a few hiccups with my behaviour management plans when I came down heavily on disrespectful students in one of my classes. At the point of almost holding the phone to contact their parents, students in one class quickly reminded me that I had promised them a weeks grace! Be very interesting now to see if that close call makes any difference compared with the other class where 3 students parents were contacted! Another area of inconsistency was the new toilet routine. I only talked about it with the classes in which the need to go to the toilet came up. Maybe if I continue this way, it will avoid a focus on going to the toilet, which with the younger students, follows with a steady stream (oops) of students suddenly desperately needing the toilet.
4. The pictures of staff and pop celebrities were a huge hit – looking forward to adding photos of siblings and students!! I am still blown away with how effective the pictures were for getting in repetitions, although next week, I must focus on maximising the repetitions by speaking much more slowly and also throwing in a comprehension check!! eg what does ‘siapa nama?’ mean?
5. JP & MP students were far more receptive than UP. I have been thinking about this constantly and think it could have been for many reasons. Were the JP lessons more engaging or was my apprehension about the introduction of the new pedagogy with the older students coming through in the delivery? I also went too fast, covering too many new target structures in each lesson, when I should have heeded Catharina’s advice; deep and thorough! I should have stayed with nama saya/siapa nama saya for second lesson, not CWB (circling with balls). Students looked bewildered and then I stressed, overthinking the process. So next week, I will leave CWB, return to nama saya & siapa nama, leaving CWB for another week.
6. Following through with parent calls made a huge impact (3 from one class). It was the first thing students talked about when they returned to their class!! They couldn’t wait to tell Kathy, their class teacher!! I made the 3 phone calls during the last lesson to ensure I spoke to all parents before the students left school. All 3 parents were very grateful for the call, especially when I pointed out that I have taught these boys, the entire time they have been at PEPS. I explained that the call was about recognising patterns in their bahaviour and disrespect and wishing to work as a team to put a stop to it early in the year so that they are successful with their learning. The first parent was happy to deal with the issue himself whereas the other 2 parents have agreed to come in and meet with us all (class teacher, performing arts teacher & me) next week. Hopefully this gets around and the other students realise that I am going to be very tough this year with non compliant behaviour.
7. Personalising takes so much longer with our large classes. May need to revisit this briefly each lesson to ensure all students experience their time in the spotlight.
8. MP students used the stop sign very well; even when I was explaining in English!! How great is that! Wonder if the stop sign will be used in their own classrooms?
8. Monyet talking and gesturing was hugely popular with all classes!! I deliberated quite a bit about using him with UP classes considering he is a JP prop but they all thoroughly enjoyed his input and also enjoyed revisiting the JP siapa nama song.
9. Comprehension checks were fantastic! Asking “nama saya’ means ….. (puzzled look on my face) is a much more effective way of getting repetitions in than by just asking what does that mean?
10. One lesson of nama saya is not enough for reception students!! I will need to revisit it next week.
11. The first lesson for all classes included completing the sentence at the top of their front cover; nama saya……… Students throughly enjoyed this for several reasons. It was a familiar task ( we used to begin each and every term with this), it was an opportunity for students to catch up with each other while working and it got them moving after a long time seated on the floor (brain break).
12. Piccadilly circus (Play is The Way) was more successful with the second 6/7 class because
a) they were familiar with the game (Natalie also did this game with them!) &
b) they had a time to beat! Competition!! May be beneficial to repeat this brain break to see if scores improve further now that they have all played it at least twice!
What I had trouble with:
1. The reception class contained a number of students presenting a huge range of emotions. Some were confident, one boy was so terrified that he stood the entire lesson (luckily he has an older brother who was very similar so I confidently continued knowing that by next week he should be slightly more acclimatised to the overwhelming institution of school), while most looked only slightly shell shocked! It was their first day at big school; they’d just bonded with their teacher and then she accompanied them to the other end of the school and left them in a totally unfamiliar classroom with a largely unfamiliar adult! I knew a few of the students through their older siblings but on the whole, I don’t think they remembered who I was. Poor darlings! Once they relaxed and realised they were going to have fun, most of them got totally carried away and were extremely silly! I always forget just how silly they can get and it is so difficult to bring them down gently without terrifying the student still in flight mode! I hate to think about what they’ve told their parents about their first Indonesian lesson! The highlight for them and lowlight for me, was with the focus on nama saya. In anticipation of the many,many years of reception students being at first convinced that my name is Blue Cathy, I included many repetitions of saying nama saya Bu Cathy and then asking Siapa nama saya? (What’s my name). Together they decided that Bu Cathy was too boring and named me Bu underpants!! I just focused on repeating, nama saya BU CATHY and hope like heck that next week they have forgotten my ‘new’ name!!
2. Talking so much makes me thirsty! I really must make a much greater effort to stay hydrated. I only achieved this on Tuesday!
3. Beginning with a new pedagogy requires considerable energy and focus – I was exhausted by Thursday (my Friday). Consequently Thursday was not a good day to begin using an unfamiliar strategy (CWB) for the first time, especially with classes that I really needed to be on my toes with.
4. I only used my new laser pointer (huge thanks to Annie for organising this) once this week with one of middle primary classes. I felt uncomfortable and this was largely because I knew it would cause a sensation with students. I think I will be more comfortable when I need to point to something around the room rather than something on the white board!
5. Having ‘bukan’ & ‘tidak’ both written on the board was confusing. Would be considerably less confusing to just have the one word needed on that day.
6. I MUST remember to keep my pop up grammar brief. Pop up grammar is intended for the 4%ers and is not a mini lesson!
7. Not stopping to do comprehension checks when responses became automatonish. Stopping will get their focus back to the target structure by giving the meaning one more tweak.
What to incorporate into my week 2 lessons
1. I want to film one of the 6/7 lessons both for student and teacher evaluation.
2. MP & UP lessons on Wednesday & Thursdays need to take into account end of the week teacher & student tiredness, especially in the early weeks of term 1.
3. I need more practise with circling – will put up a poster on the back wall for handy reference when my mind becomes blank!
4. I need to move on, have a bail out activity up my sleeve or use other ways to get reps if something is not working.
5. I must revisit nama saya and siapa nama saya to ensure enough reps are achieved.
6. Maybe introduce the laser briefly to cut down on its novelty when it is eventually needed
6. Focus on the ‘Pleased to meet you” script. Mime first with monyet and me with monyet being the celebrity. Take photos using the ipad and discuss using ya/ bukan.
7. 5 min lesson chunks may help with all grades to keep it moving and engaging.
8. Having selected students sit in ‘first class’ (one of Catharina’s suggestions) on seats behind the students seated on the floor.
9. Reduce students seated for long times on floor. Look for active ways to include increasing reps.
10 Time to write daily student and teacher reflections!
How was your first week at school? Was your learning curve as steep as mine?