My Day as a Teacher

Posted by Sonja Poe on 5/16/2018

This past Monday, our exchange group had the opportunity to visit the Chaoyang branch of the Jingshan school. Together, we created a lesson plan in which we each taught to a different class of first and second graders. Having never taught English to anyone, let alone a class of 40 children, I learned a number of new things.

First of all, being a teacher certainly has it’s set of challenges. Teaching is all about balance. Faced with a group of incredibly sweet, enthusiastic, and energetic students I had to find a way to keep them in order, but also let them have fun. Jumping out of their seats to answer questions gave them some opportunity to actively participate, yet I had to make sure to attend to enough students to maintain control while still keeping the flow of the lesson for the whole class. Another important tactic that I learned was to communicate that mistakes are okay and nothing to worry about. One student didn't understand a question I asked. He stood next to his seat quite flustered and unsure what to do. I told him that it's okay and that he can take a seat, but he kept standing. Students around him giggled and made jokes. I felt really bad and quickly came up with a plan to change the situation. Drawing attention away from the question I asked the boy to turn to a friend behind him and complete a different task together. When they were done, I congratulated the two kids each with a bag of skittles. All fluster gone from his face, the little boy sat down with a big smile. A small, seemingly insignificant situation as this reminded me how much more there is to teaching than just communicating facts.

Another lesson I leaned was that things never go quite as planned. My classmates and I had carefully constructed a lesson plan that would keep the students engaged while teaching them new vocabulary. The problem was, we significantly underestimated the level of the student’s English. After about a minute of being in the classroom, I realized zoo animals, school lunch, and summer vacation would not make the cut. A new plan had to be devised on the spot. I had each student go around, introduce themselves, and tell me something about their weekend, their hobbies, or what they were excited about in general. Afterwards, we delved into a long discussion about various American holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and New Years. Together the students and I also drew holiday related pictures on the blackboard, my favorite of which were the giant pumpkin and the slightly deformed snowman. In the second class I taught, after each student introduced themselves, we played an incredibly entertaining game of hangman. Letting the students pick their own hangman words and whisper them to my friend and I, they had a chance to use more level appropriate vocabulary.

Overall, the experience was incredibly fun and rewarding. I had a wonderful time time playing with the children, teaching them, and getting to know each of their very unique personalities.