Journal: A Failure that Didn’t Feel Horrible

The failure I mention in the title is that of our conversation circle.  I had a big class today (16 at its highest point), and it just seems crazy to me to have a conversation circle be so big.  How can anyone get a chance to talk?  I’ve been splitting the big group into two sub-groups, one of which cannot have a teacher because there’s only one of me.

Yesterday the sub-group that I wasn’t supervising lapsed into Spanish.  Today I tried recruiting an “English Police” officer to say, “Excuse me, please use English” every time someone slipped into their first language.  It didn’t work.  The “English Police” was too shy to say anything, but even so there was less first-language usage… because nobody was talking at all.

I’m having trouble getting them started in such a way that they can keep going without my constant attention.  I know it can be done and that I just haven’t been setting it up and supporting it the right way.  Even though it’s not a successful endeavor yet, I know they’re interested in it because they tell me, and I can see that they don’t hate me for not managing it perfectly; they see that I’m figuring it out.  The mistakes I’m making are the type that are teaching me to teach better.  I’m so lucky to have students willing to be patient with me.

My next strategy is conversation cards.  The ready-made ones are too hard for many of the students, so I’m writing my own.  I think I should also give the higher-level students more opportunities for leadership, and conversation time would be a good time to start.  We’ll see how that goes.

Students: 16

Countries of Origin: El Salvador, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Iraq

What surprised me:

  • The conversation flop, even though I should have expected it.
  • How many people took me up on my offer for homework.
  • I feel like class isn’t very energetic even though we do move around a lot and do small-group work and big-group educational games.

Today’s Objectives:

  1. SWBAT name, spell, and understand 10 jobs
  2. SWBAT write true, grammatically correct dialogs asking  about someone’s occupation.
  3. SWBAT listen for main ideas in President Obama’s 2010 speech to students.

What went well:

I was really impressed with the work my lower-level students did in dialog writing.

I think that even though Obama’s speech to students was difficult (wow, between his hallmark pauses, he speaks very quickly) that it made the impression that the President values education just like they do.  I also gave them links (shortened with http://bit.ly) they could follow in their spare time at home, particularly useful to the higher students and the students with kids who speak English.

What I’d like to improve upon:

Conversation.  Catering to my low-beginners, beginners, and higher-level students at the same time.  You know, the usual.

Thoughts for next week:

After reviewing the homework and grammar, I think we’ll be moving on to Unit 2!

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