Expat

Adventures in EFL teaching (time trial)

I walked in with more swagger and confidence than I normally do because I felt I needed to. I wanted to keep my expectations clean and clear of any perceived danger, but I also wanted to be smart about it too.

The kids did not appear any more wild than the usual bunch of bananas, but I noticed today was boy and girl scout uniform day. I say this because there was one girl not in uniform. She was wearing black combat boots and shorty shorts and a long top. I wrote down the level for the class on the white board and I pointedly looked at her to make sure she was in the right class.

She was.

She’s Korean.

As soon as that excitement was raised, I knew there was a possibility for competing for attention. You see, all things Korean is very popular in Thailand right now. But when one of the boys got her name wrong and I forcefully answered back her correct name, everyone laughed. I started to think, this class is going to be fine.

I found this article on how teacher expectations can influence how students perform, serendipitously the following day (thank you FB friends), and it seemed to be my gentle reminder that I was right not to think the worst of the class before going in.

But I knew this from Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success. I knew if I walked in thinking these were trouble makers, I’d see nothing but merry making of the troubling kind. This is not to say my colleagues were evil, they too knew that these students might be different with me. It’s just we have to be careful in labeling students. And Jessica was brilliant in what she said. I’m very grateful that her words were the last ones I heard before teaching.

Of course, I’m only working on 2 days of class. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Ever since I listened to Gladwell’s book, I’ve been telling my 13 year olds how smart they are (never insincerely though). And ever since my mentor told me, back when I was teaching the first grade, I’ve been giving my students a lot of praise.

We’ll see how it goes. Days 1 and 2 were good. I’m expecting less than stellar teaching moments because I’m not great, but who knows, maybe this will be my best class because: I will be super conscious to pay attention to them, keep the momentum going, and because I’ve been given a challenge.

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