Learning to Teach

Blog entry created by: Meagan

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We aren’t exactly qualified for this…

“How are we going to pull this one off?” was one of the first thoughts that ran through my mind.  Although excited about our volunteer assignment, I was skeptical about how practical it would be to have us all teaching a Spoken English/Job Interview class to a group of sponsored youth.  Only one of us had any real experience with job interviews, and although she has plenty of experience with hiring and the likes, that knowledge is based off of the fast-paced Western world that we call home.  Interviews in India probably aren’t the same as interviews in the US!  And how exactly does one teach a Spoken English class without knowing the native language? Good thing we’re always up for a challenge :)

Crash and Burn

Planning was an unheard of concept in our first class.  We came up with a few broad ideas, and figured we’d spend the two hour long class getting a feel for the class and going with the flow.  What a mistake that was!  We quickly learned that planning is essential to teaching.  Going with the flow just doesn’t work.  I would say that we learned more during that first class than the students we were teaching did.  It’s sad, but true.  Things we learned from teaching our first class:

1.       Have a plan.  If you don’t have a plan, it’s going to be a LOOOONNNNGGG two hours.

2.       Having a translator is pretty much crucial for teaching a Job Interview Skills class.  We can get away without one during the Spoken English part of the class, but nobody seemed to get what we were saying during the Job Interview part, making the translator EXTREMELY useful.

3.       Splitting up into groups is ok for Spoken English, but it’s best to teach Interview skills to the class as a whole.  Otherwise, the group Teresa is working with gets tons of useful tips, while Jenny and I’s group gets left in the dust, as the two of us try to be as useful as possible with our miniscule knowledge on the subject.  “Uhh… you want to try to stand out to the person that’s interviewing you.”

4.       Students aren’t the only ones that like break time and snacks! 2 hours is a long time; to keep everyone sane, ourselves included, we bring snacks and have a 10 to 15 minute break during the class.

5.       Games are a GREAT teaching resource.  And the internet is a GREAT resource for spoken English games :)

We’re Learning!

Luckily for us (and the students) every class is better than the last!  We’re now teaching 4 classes 4 days a week: a Spoken English (SE)/Job Interview Class, a Crafts Class, a Movie Making Class, and another SE Class.  The second SE Class is actually 2 classes because there are so many kids- so Bella and I teach 30 kids while Teresa and Alex teach 30 kids (Jenny helps where she feels it’s most useful).

We’ve discovered some things that work really well, and some things that don’t work at all; it all really depends on the class.  For instance, the game 20 Questions didn’t work with one of the SE Classes; the kids didn’t get the concept of the game, and thought it was really boring.  But when Bella and I tried it with our SE class it was a big hit!  The kids were asking taking turns being It, and asking questions like “Is the animal domesticated?” We’ve also set up some bigger projects with the classes, and we’ll be posting the results in a few weeks!  One of the SE classes is working on a podcast, and the Movie Making Class is making a short movie about “The Day in the Life of a Sponsor Child.”  The teens all seem excited about the projects and I’m really excited to see the results :)

I’m lovin’ it :)

I enjoy teaching much more than I thought I would.  I like coming up with interesting/useful activities to do during class, and I love interacting with the youth!  They’re extremely bright, and they continue to amaze me with what they know and accomplish.  And (I think) they’re learning from us and having a good time, despite our lack of qualifications :)

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Posted on: January 25, 2011 | Categories: Children International, Education, Health Education- Calcutta, India


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