Monday, March 08, 2010

Teaching update

I've been thinking that I should do an update on work, because at the mo it probably seems like I don't do any. Whereas, in reality, I just don't do much. It is a shocking fact that 8 weeks of my contract remain, 2 of which are holidays. Which is a good thing, because I'm running out of teaching ideas pretty much. As you may recall, I officially teach 12 hours a week. I'm fairly confident that, since the beginning of my contract, I would be able to count the weeks where I had to work all 12 hours on one hand. Looking back over my diary for this year so far, I can see only one week where I haven't written down a cancellation - and of course, the year began fresh from Christmas holidays & I've already had another 2 week break. This week I already have 5 hours' worth of cancellations. And I still get paid the same regardless :D

To balance this lack of work, I have picked up 2 private lessons - and by 'picked up', I mean 'had them thrust upon me more-or-less against my will'. Now I'm actually doing the lessons - one one-on-one oral class with a girl in prep school, and one small group focused on (eek!) grammar, I feel a bit dumb for trying to wiggle out of it for ages, because they're actually not half bad, and some handy pocket money. I just hated teaching so much before that I was petrified of the idea of having 100% responsibility for a class again, however small, but I think I've come a long way since I first taught in Moscow.

Analysing it, I think it all hinges on the fact that I'm not actually responsible for drilling these kids on grammar or making sure they follow a logical programme where they progress, for example, from 3 weeks on 'going to the movies' and 'the present perfect' to 3 on 'my dream career' and 'the future tense'. This has two effects - one, even if they're not learning anything, and frankly, I doubt that they are, it's not really my responsibility because I'm not employed to explain tenses to them (well except in the private lesson mentioned above), and two, I'm free to do what I like so I can actually (attempt to) make the lessons interesting. Long-time followers of the blog (hi Mum!) may remember that the final straw for me in Moscow was learning that one of my classes complained I was too boring. Looking back now, I realise I was *too* focused on following a programme, just sort of rigidly going through the exercise book without really bringing it to life. To be fair, I did try to throw in some different stuff I'd photocopied from other books now and again, but here I really just make up my lessons from scratch out of my head - they're not always successful, but at least it's not "turn to page 89, let's do lesson 1... okay, now page 90, exercise 4" like when I was in Moscow. I'd like to think that if I ever did end up teaching in a private school again, where I was solely responsible for the curriculum, I would be able to combine those sorts of grammatical exercises that, probably, the text-book is really best for, with some imagination and interesting stuff I'd have come up with myself.

Teaching English is not something I see in my future, but if you'd asked me after I left Moscow with my tail between my legs, I would have definitely said 'never again', and here I am, so you never know... I want to get out of the sort of ghetto existence which is living in Europe in this English-speaking bubble, but it's difficult, and it's nice to know that something that I would have recoiled with horror at the thought of a couple of years back (teaching in a language school) is sort of there again as a backup plan for me if all else fails.

Anyway, the real purpose of this post, of course, was to procrastinate instead of doing my homework - a contraction croisée. I (and my students) have to read a short text in French and summarize it in about 120 words. It's difficult, but this is the sort of thing I'm good at, and I like to think I have it down to a fine art. Tomorrow I get to dictate my version to the kids so they can marvel at my wordsmithery :D Better get to it!


  1. Ahhhh - a teacher who reflects on her teaching - I'll bet that's recommended in some textbook on how to improve teaching....

  2. Meanwhile I just marvel at the utter drivel.


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