Friday, 29 October 2004

Open House Rehearsals

Next week is "Open House" week, whereby the school throws its door open for the parents to sit in through classes. Well, it's not quite as open an invitation as that, but from Tuesday to Friday next week the parents of the kindergarten students are invited to sit through an especially staged, phoney and rehearsed lesson.

The rehearsals have been this week. It's just 20 minutes with each class, half the usual time, and the director wants it all to be smooth, professional and seamless, which is something teaching can never be. Therefore, she has sat in each class and provided her constructive criticism after. Actually, wipe constructive from that last sentence.

Today's fake lesson was Ocean Class, eight very pleasant but usually happily disorganised children with no attention span. Half my lesson is spent just making sure they are all sitting down and paying even a little attention.

But today, they were on immaculate behaviour. Sat at their desks neatly, politely responding to my questions, speaking in chorus when required. Once or twice, a head would slowly begin to sink into hands or eager writing in their book would begin prematurely, but the director immediately snapped them into line with a series of furious barks in Korean. I tell you, the director scares me so she can only be the stuff of the most dreadful nightmares for these poor children. When she gets angry, which is often, she looks like a bullfrog injected with testosterone.

And so, with her sitting at the back, there was no way these poor little kids were going to make even the slightest move towards insuborbination. It was one of the easiest lessons I've had with them, as they sat and listened and remained calm and quiet.

The director's constructive criticism? That the kids weren't active enough. That they weren't seeming to enjoy the lesson as much as they might. That I should try and make it a little more fun and maybe include a game. I think it went beyond her comprehension that her barked tirades were affecting the usual behaviour of the students.

At least it went better than yesterday's class, a damned gym lesson for Forest Class, the tiniest class of all. I cannot stand this class, or this age group rather. They are all just a bunch of mini-spastics at that age, and so they proved to be when I tried to structure a gym lesson for them. They were all over the place, much less ordered than usual due to the director and another teacher standing next to them. Not barking angrily this time, but the change from the routine was enough to confuse the kids. The criticism after this class wasn't, oddly, that there was no apparent order or sense to the lesson and that the kids weren't paying any attention, but that I needed to use more English. Like get the kids to say "I will catch the ball", "I can jump" and "I enjoy learning English in Castle School and find each lesson well prepared and stimulating, and feel it could only be positive for my development for my parents to continue paying for me to go here."

Tuesday's lesson was with Rainbow class, and went perfectly, so no remarks were received after that one, which I take as positive.

I've only got another eight weeks at this school now, and I'm quite relishing leaving. The kids are great, I get free reign in my classes (mostly) but the hours are too long and I'm just starting to get fed up with the place, and always feeling tired. So, in January, a nice long holiday and then I'll be looking for a new job.

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