I feel really incompetent and wonder if I'm actually doing my job. My students said it's OK because my class is usually really fun, but it's not their job to reassure me, it's my job to be ready to go everyday. I also found out that while I prepared this week's activity to go along with unit 4 in their textbook, they started unit 3 just yesterday. So I am too far ahead and out of sync with the other teachers. I plan on doing a better job of checking in with them by asking one of the English teachers for Chinese lessons. That way, I not only gain a little more independence by learning more Chinese but I'd have a set time when I was meeting with someone who teaches the same grade as I do. On the other hand, it's not like my prepositions lesson was without a purpose. I planned to have my students listen to the song, "This is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas (and possibly play the opening scene so that they could both listen and watch for fuller comprehension). The reason they're learning about monsters and prepositions now is so that I have enough time to go over other new words for their comprehension. Each class is only about 40 minutes long, I usually take 5 minutes to wrap up at the end with class points and performance,a review of the day's lesson, and a preview of next week's lesson. That leaves me another 35 minutes but I usually start with 5 minutes to review class rules and expectations, review last week's lesson, and give a quick preview of that day's material. So then I have 30 minutes to teach and ask my students to complete a speaking activity in class. The song is already 3 minutes long, I will need time to go over things they might not know, to ask questions and do other pre-listening activities, give them something to do while listening, and then follow it up with comprehension questions afterwards. And I don't want to overload them with new words. And I'm not paying for copies of this song for every student in my classes since I have over 500 students. That's a lot of paper. I want to share these things with them badly, but I feel that I may be asking too much of them if they're just starting the unit "Is this your pencil?". I'm also beginning to question my song and movie choice here.
I'm not so sure that I'm the teacher these kids deserve. I'll keep plugging away at my lesson plans to do all I can to be closer to that ideal, but I always feel so insecure especially when compared to the other teachers here. I realize this may just be a low point and that in many ways my position is very particular and faces a lot of challenges, one of which is that there are only two foreign teachers in charge of both the 7th and 8th grade oral English classes. I actually have it relatively easy teaching 13 classes and seeing them once a week. My site mate has to alternate schedules every week so she only sees them once every other week and she's taken on a total of 22 classes, she just doesn't see all of them in one week. I have a greater chance of building relationships with my students since I see them more frequently and can better pace their workload to more or less cover the same material in one week. So there's really nothing for me to cry about, I just feel really incompetent.
So my plan for working more closely with the 7th grade English teachers is as follows:
- Chinese lessons with one of the English teachers who previously taught Chinese to foreigners. Additionally, said teacher is in many ways the teacher I aspire to be despite having taught for a total of 5 months. So I'd be working with both a role model and someone who probably understands my concerns as another new teacher.
- Coming into the 7th grade English office more frequently with a monthly plan. Ever since coming here I've heard nothing but "What can we do to help you?" and I'm sure that asking for feedback on a monthly plan if not a term long plan would be a good way check my pacing and how appropriate my material is.
It's not much for now, but I think just these two things would help immensely. I already have been developing relations with my students by eating lunch with them and listening to music together after class. Though since we watched Spongebob in one of my classes last week they wanted to do it again. Sorry, kids. That was a fun day but I can't do that everyday. I want to be better because I really enjoy seeing my students grow and speak a little more each week, but in my enthusiasm I sometimes forget what level they're at...