Saturday, August 15, 2009

Improv at the Cram School

I've taught hundreds of hours of lessons since I got here. Most of them just blur together but there are a few that stick out in my mind, usually ones that were particularly awful or particularly great. Today's lesson had a little of both.

Today was my first day at a new adult cram school. THe school is located right in the heart of Taipei's cram school district by the Main Station. Seriously there is a CRAM SCHOOL DISTRICT here. Anyway the class was substituting for another teacher and was a business English class. I only got the book yesterday so I wasn't familiar with it at all.... Unlike my last cram school, the classes here are two hours, not an hour and a half. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to stretch the material for that length of time. Seeing as how it was my first class and I wanted to make a good impression, I spent like and hour and a half preparing. I made a handout, complete with key words, new vocabulary, grammar exercises pertinent questions etc.

There were only five students in the class. I began by introducing myself and then explained today we'll be doing chapter 4. I began giving out my handout and noticed a lot of confused Taiwanese faces.

"We're up to chapter four right" I asked sheepishly,
"No we did that already we're up to chapter 7 today" was the reply.

I had no idea what chapter 7 was about; nor had ANY material lined up at all....I was visibly flustered. 2 hours in an adult English class with NO lesson plan, not even an idea about the topic, nor any previous rapport with the students to help me out. And worst of all no windows to jump out of...this should be fun
A quick glance at the topic, "How to Delegate"... Ok... I thought, ......lets do this and have some fun

I explained the definition of the word, gave some synonyms and asked what kinds of things do people delegate? What was the last thing you delegated? etc....
My students could tell I was flustered but in true Taiwanese fashion didn't call me out on it. Anyway with no lesson plan, no prep work.... I proceeded to teach what I would say by my standards was a pretty decent, even good lesson. I've had some lessons before that I had a clear plan for but bombed badly.

However two hours of basically bullshitting paid off. And by the end the students were comfortable, relaxed and learnin' some good English...
It was so good that after it one of the students asked if I was teaching any other conversation classes because she thought I was a good teacher....
And actually, improvising that whole lesson was pretty fun; got a little rush out of it! Lesson plans are overrated anyway.


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