So far my second year of teaching has been much more challenging than the first year. I think I was spoiled with last years class, it was so small, the students were quite bright and keen on learning English and they were all, at least a little, scared of me. (At first…)
This year has proven to be so much different. Not only has my class size doubled, my students come from a much wider range of ‘home situations’. Where last years students, for the most part, attended Thai preschool and had a basic understanding of what is acceptable school behavior, the majority of this years class are just now experiencing school–let alone English–for the first time.
I’ve had to up my game.
A lot of the tricks and tools I used regularly last year do not work anymore. Things I routinely did with last years class to quiet them down and transition onto the next activity, have proven to only make these students louder and less compliant.
As much as I have felt frustrated and lost as to what to do, the challenge has been good for me.
I have been graced with a teacher helper, who has helped me come up with new ideas for managing my students and has been pivotal in giving me the confidence I need to play the unpopular role of disciplinarian in the class–a role that I seldom, if ever, had to play last year. With the help of my teacher helper, I have set up routines, boundaries and structure for my little 6 year old to excel in.
All that to say, my students (and I) have come a long way.
I’ve always known that first graders can’t sit in their desks and listen for any extended amount of time… this year the kids are taking me to task. I have to make sure I come to class fully prepared with activities that will not only stimulate their learning, but keep the students engaged as well.
I’ve recycled some of my favorite lessons from last year, but have also incorporated new lessons and activities–I have even started doing station rotations with the first graders, a completely foreign concept in Thai education.
This week, we’ve been learning the letter ‘N’.
What is ‘N’ for?
So, I cooked up a bunch of noodles (spaghetti) and let my kids have at it for some sensory exploration.
It was a blast.
The kids were content playing just with the noodles and the fun could have gone on for hours–but then, I added PAINT and gave each student a piece of paper to make their masterpiece.
The results couldn’t have been better.
I was so proud of my students and it was really evident to me how important sensory exploration like this is for this age group. They not only loved the activity, they were engaged, well behaved and surprisingly quiet. The noise and nonsense that is so normal in my classroom disappeared for about 20 minutes while my students played and created.
I don’t leave school everyday feeling like it was a success–on the contrary I have plenty of days that I feel like I need to do the entire lesson plan over again–but painting with noodles while learning about the letter N, was a successful teacher day. So successful that I’m thinking that we’ll need to ‘Paint with Pasta’ for the letter P… 🙂
We also made Noodle Necklaces, so this is Graphic cheesing with his.
How cute is he!?!