Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kindergarten Cop

The above photo is just some other random Korean kindergarteners I found on Picasa Web Albums. Look, I've been busy planning lessons and making little arty things for them not to mention being a mom on top of it so I've spaced and forgotten my camera all week. As a matter of fact, you're lucky I had a moment to fart out this blog. So there you go.

I've survived 2 weeks of teaching kindergarten. That deserves some reward, doesn't it? I'm still adjusting to having a job - period - so at night, I find myself falling asleep while feeding Raelynn at 9:30pm. I'm hoping this is only a temporary setback as I don't want to go to sleep that early on any given night. But sometimes I'm so wiped out, it's necessary.

What is it that's so draining? I'm not quite sure. I'm up at 6:30am and Xiao Shi and his dilapidated pickup truck are vigilantly waiting for me at 7:30am. It's during these rides that I attempt to practice my Chinese though Xiao Shi's accent is much like MIL's in that it is a very different dialect and it takes him repeating himself about 5 times before I can decipher anything he says. Energy is also depleted from Raelynn waking several times in the night with much more frequency now that I've been working due to wanting to spend time with me. So between the early rising and a baby that vies for my attention at random late hours, it makes for a pretty exhausted me. Let's not forget a room full of 15 very active 6-year-olds either. 

For the most part, I do like my students. They are cute kids. Some of them are actually quite bright. And some, not so much. But that's what I'm here for. To help them. Because English is not their first language, my day is often spent repeating the same thing over and over, slowly and loudly. I must increase the volume of my voice as I inevitably have 3 or 4 of them yelling at once, "Teacher! Teacher! Finishy!" Or "Teacherrrrrrr! Albert is speaking Korean again!" OR "Teacher! I have to go to the bathroom!" Sometimes I feel like more of a kindergarten cop than a kindergarten ESL teacher. I thank my lucky stars that I only have to deal with these kids for 3 hours a day 5 days a week because a whole day of this would make me go insane.

To encourage good behavior and help foster learning, I've instituted play money as a reward/punishment system. Because I don't want to spend my whole day putting children in the corner like a warden. I charge them a small fine every time they speak Korean during an English lesson. And when they complete their homework, I pay them $5 in play money as a reward. At the end of the month, the student who has saved the most money will get a special prize. I'm not sure what yet, but kids at this age are rather easy to please.

I also discovered that if I ask them for their help with something, they are all too happy to assist me. They beg to hand out worksheets or be the one to pass out the morning snack. So, I use that as a reward too. It works rather well with everything, I've found. I gave them something to color to give them a break from a lot of writing work we'd been doing (and give me a much-needed break so I could check their homework without constant interruption) but I told them I needed their help. I wanted to redecorate the wall by my desk with new artwork and I wanted it to look pretty. Every single one of them kept quiet and diligently colored their pictures for me. I was impressed. I'll definitely be using that trick more often!

Despite the lack of intellectual challenge in teaching kindergarten, it's really not all bad. For as many times as I get comments like, "Teacherrrrrrrrr! Albert took my pencil!" Or "Teacher! I'm hungry!" Or "Teacherrrrrrr! Albert's looking at me during time out!" (In case you're wondering, Albert is my trouble-maker.) I also get comments like, "Teacher, your hair is pretty!" And "Teacher, I like your eyes!" And "Teacher, I like you!" And those are what make my day at work feel less like prison and more like playtime.

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