Monday was my first day teaching at the O. One of the things we were able to purchase and bring with us was phonics workbooks for every kid that attends the upper school there (age 7+). We purchased enough for each child to have their own, plus many extras for kids coming in or aging up. I spoke with the regular teacher there, Johnston, and we decided that I would work with small groups of 3-5 kids at a time – 1 group early, then another group after the morning break. We decided we would group them by ability and see how it goes.
The first 2 groups were the smartest – and they found the work fairly easy. One boy later told Gary it was baby work. I found out later why he said that – as I cleaned out my classroom that day I found his old schoolwork and he most certainly would have been bored with beginning English!
I went in my second day a little unsure of how it would go. I knew that several of the kids in these groups liked to copy off each other or just refuse to do any work. Fortunately, they all cooperated for the most part and it went smoothly. I was firm with my rules that I introduced before beginning:
1. You come in, sit and don’t get up.
2. You do your work only – no copying, no helping your neighbor.
These rules seem like common sense to us, but these kids often overrun their teacher, disobey, wander about the classroom (or even leave the classroom). Knowing that these kids are all being adopted into American families, and that there’s a good chance they won’t be homeschooled, I had a goal to put these rules in place and enforce them. Not that these rules don’t already exist in their classroom, but there is 1 teacher and 15 kids. This is a great ratio in American classrooms, but remember that these kids get to run and play most of the rest of the day without a ton of structure, so they often give Johnston a hard time.
Thursday, I brought Gracie’s grammar work with me to the O. I made a copy so that the-boy-who-knew-too-much could do more grade level appropriate work. I don’t think he liked that I did that, that he would have to do harder work. But I also think he appreciated it – even if it was only just a little bit. I am really growing fond of each and every one of these kids. And I am really enjoying teaching. I wish I had more materials and more time to plan to challenge each child individually. But we are making do with what we have and it seems to be going just fine!