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.

Sheโ€™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 Gladwellโ€™s Outliers: The Story of Success. I knew if I walked in thinking these were trouble makers, Iโ€™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. Itโ€™s just we have to be careful in labeling students. And Jessica was brilliant in what she said. Iโ€™m very grateful that her words were the last ones I heard before teaching.

Of course, Iโ€™m only working on 2 days of class. But Iโ€™m going to let you in on a little secret. Ever since I listened to Gladwellโ€™s book, Iโ€™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, Iโ€™ve been giving my students a lot of praise.

Weโ€™ll see how it goes. Days 1 and 2 were good. Iโ€™m expecting less than stellar teaching moments because Iโ€™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 Iโ€™ve been given a challenge.

2 replies on “Adventures in EFL teaching (time trial)

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