Monday, 9 July 2012

Last week and cover lessons

Firstly just a recap of the week just gone. It was a bit of a difficult week, it should have been easy, all my middle school classes were in testing so my daily lessons were greatly reduced. Some of the middle school kids were finishing their tests and I, basically, had to do cover lessons. Nothing from the books but something light and fun but still gets them working.

I think it's fair to say I failed. 1st class I decided to focus on creative writing and got over my personal opinion and printed out some passages from Harry Potter. The plan was to try and get them to describe a character of their own. I was faced with blank, bored expressions that gradually found themselves planted firmly on the desk. This was clearly not the way to go. 

2nd period comes around and I'm a student short, I figure he was so bored he was allowed to go home...nice one Chris, way to connect with the kids. Anyway for the next period I thought a more visual approach might be more fun. So ready for round two armed with story boards and pencil crayons I at least managed to keep the remaining two students mildly entertained.

The following day I had cover again. I decided I'd keep the same subject of descriptive writing but with a more visual approach. I created some character sheets where they could design their own and fill out the expression, appearance and traits sections. I figured this combined with talking about what different traits etc would take up the 1st lesson. Next lesson I had some story boards that they then had to come up with a short story to place their character in.

Kids naturally are expressive and descriptive in their drawings no matter what the quality, I thought it would be a good way to help them visualise something to write about in a descriptive way as for the final lesson they had to then write me a short story or just write about one scene in particular. It did work ok, but they did get bored quickly and refused to write anything.

Thursday I had the same thing, as the lesson almost worked the previous day I though I'd try it again but just focus on the one character and describing that alone. I was faced with a solid wall of defiance. They felt patronised that I had crayons and refused point blank to draw or write anything. I tried to talk to them and get a conversation going and just have a speaking lesson, but still they would rather sit for 3 hours in silence than draw or have a conversation.

I resorted to asking them what they would like to do, same response. I ended up putting up on the board a Wordament puzzle. Kind of like a word search but you can find words in any direction providing its a touching tile. I didn't say anything I just put it up on the board and drew one example and just sat back. Sure enough not even the most stubborn of minds can resist a word puzzle and the silence is broken from the most difficult student with a good 6 letter word! So for the remainder of the day it was a variety of word games. Although I've now learned Hangman is not allowed in Korean Schools, it because of the high suicide rate of children they don't want to give anyone any ideas.

So Friday comes and I though life was back to normal but I was mistaken. I had another cover lesson. I don't feel I've had my head in the game all week and with no free periods I was just unable to prep any form of lesson plan that even I wasn't bored just thinking about it. I decided to turn to a colleague for help and just be honest. I wasn't prepared and I had no idea how to teach/entertain these students for 3 periods. I was aware that my previous plans were not working and weren't really fit for their level and it had been noticed.

My colleague very kindly let me use his lesson plan about truth and opinion, distinguishing the difference and getting into debates. As defiant as they were not to do any work they did get on with it as if it were a normal class. 

Eventually the bell ended what felt like a very long week and I enter the weekend slightly demoralised with some harsh lessons learned. I guess every teacher at some point or other has days like that. At least my basic classes have me smiling.

Saturday we went to the Jeonju museums, I've got loads of photos so when I get back from today's adventures I'll update again with some pics.


  1. Ahh Chris, your week sounds hard going. Just remember ALL teachers have those days/weeks (in my case terms te he) and cover lessons are horrid, it's not you it's just the nature of the job. If you want any ideas send me an email and i'll try to help if I can. Don't be too hard on yourself, you and Sophie are doing a great job and all these hard days will make you better in the end. I had a stash of penguin bars for bad days ha ha! At least you have Andy Kaufmann dancing to look forward to! Hope this week goes better!

  2. WHAT?!?! HANGMAN IS NOT ALLOWED?! One of my co-teachers used hangman as an activity on my FIRST day working at the Yong Heung Elementary school. Now that it is summer camp, I use Hangman as one of the word games for breaks. To think I've been encouraging suicide these past few weeks.

    1. Haha I know, I was always playing it if I had a spare 5 minutes at the end off class. It's a great word game. I tried doing it with a different drawing so not to be 'hang man' but rather 'happy man', I would draw a happy face but the kids just weren't having it.

  3. That sounded tough but you got through it . I will get Charlotte to read this when she is having a bad week on her teacher training course so that she can see that thing aren’t so bad after all : )
    Sounds like you are both doing a great job.