Well, we have come to the end of our first week of work. I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard that I only had to teach 9 Year 4’s! How hard could that be?! I arrived Monday morning and quickly I was given my Year 4’s with their desks, a teacher’s desk and a lockable cabinet. A library shelf was wheeled in, complete with a random array of English Sunshine books and three fans due to there being only one wall with windows. Then I was left to it.
The kids can mostly speak English, with the exception of maybe one, and another who can understand some, but who is very reluctant to speak it. As for the others, well, they’re pretty good at spoken English but are very nervous to write. They can recite the alphabet, but cannot put sounds to letters. And while they’re Year 4, it is going to be more like teaching five year olds to write. As for their skills writing in Tokelau… I have no idea! I suspect I will end up spending more time teaching myself how to teach juniors and ESOL that spending too much time training the other teachers!
After a while I managed to track down a box of crayons stashed away in the back of one of the teacher’s cabinets; they were my saviour! I set the kids off drawing a picture of themselves to be laminated onto the back of their essential English words list. The kids are all very likeable but a few can be a bit too cheeky at times and getting them to finish their work quickly was an up-hill battle at times.
By Wednesday I was exhausted. The classroom was a heat trap and I don’t think I have ever sweated so much in my life! The kids were noisy and off-task most of the time and time felt so slow! While the kids were driving me crazy I did feel really sorry for them! Imagine, at 8 years old, being thrown in with a foreign language teacher, who runs different routines and in stiflingly hot weather! The poor kids were probably exhausted too.
Anyway, it was nothing that a stern word from the deputy principal couldn’t sort out on Thursday! Matt came along to class to help for the day too, which took the pressure off me a lot. I’ve begun to develop some routines so the children know what to expect each day and at home in the evenings I have become well aquainted with my trusty laminator making lots of basic classroom resources. So far: Monitor chart, Essential Word lists 1 and 2 flash cards, board games for lists 1-3, maths bingo cards (a real hit!) tens frames, number flash cards, number fans and “Today is/tomorrow is/yesterday was” poster, days of the week cards and some consonant blend cards, number charts, bubble puzzles, four sets of ‘loopy’ and a family of facts game, ‘Beans’.
Eventually I hope to have so many games and activities that the children can do a lot independently while I work with small groups of three at a time for maths and reading. At the moment they are very reliant on me and I must hear a hundred times a day, “Teacher! Teacher!”.
It was a nice way for the week to end when Timu arrived in with two coconuts and a massive yellow-finned tuna for us! With there being no freezer at school I sent it home with another child to give to Matt who was in a meeting at the high school with the principal!
Matt is currently the PE teacher and part time Year 4 teacher aide! He’s trying to avoid teaching English and Music! Every second Friday he is in charge of teaching the whole high school PE and Health, and he has a Year 11 class on Monday mornings.