Oh. My. God.
My everything hurts. I forgot my iPod in the Cooking Room, so no pictures today (sorry! OTL), but I'll post them next time. It has been a crazy couple of days.
So, yesterday (Monday) was our first day of sample/free classes. Nathan and Melissa were teaching, which left me, Sam, and Julia to prepare our rooms and lesson plans. For me, this mostly involved taking the plastic wrapping off everything in the Cooking Room, washing things, writing down cookie recipes, and going over my lesson plan with my co-teacher, Nana. I didn't get my cookie ingredients or other kitchen supplies until later in the afternoon, so my morning was pretty slow. I did help greet the kids in the afternoon, and they were all ADORABLE. Very polite and well-behaved compared to American kids.
I didn't have time to bake a test run of cookies Monday evening after we finally got the supplies, so I just put everything away and vowed to start in on cookie-baking early on Tuesday before my first class. Easier said than done. First the butter had to soften to room temperature, then we had to mix up the first batch of dough and measure out 1/4 portions of the recipe for each class, and then we had to refrigerate the dough for an hour... Since we didn't actually get started until after lunch, we wound up taking our first batch of cookies out of the oven a scant twenty minutes before our first class showed up, which gave us just enough time to clean up and prep our supplies for the class.
Let me just state right now that I wasn't really nervous about teaching beforehand. Maybe I should have been, because the instant those kids walked through the door, all my carefully laid lesson plans flew out the window and I broke into a cold sweat. Class A wasn't a bad class; just difficult for a first-time teacher. Most of the kids were 6 or 7 years old, barely spoke a word of English, and were very shy. One of the girls came in crying! It was like pulling teeth to get them to repeat anything, and their level of understanding was next to zero. By the time we took attendance, washed our hands, got them all into the aprons, and painstakingly got them to repeat the ingredients we were using, there was no time to bake any cookies! Nana and I still had our test cookies, but various staff and other teachers had snagged a few of them, leaving us two short for our class. Unwilling to send any child home without a cookie, Nana explained to them that they could come back after their second class to pick up a cookie to take home. They seemed happy with this, and we got them all out of their aprons (which was another long struggle), lined them up at the door (with a bit of pushing and scuffling), and led them off to their next class.
Naturally, we all forgot the ten minute break between classes, during which we were supposed to take the kids to the restroom. Oops. Thankfully, Cindy stepped in and helped with that bit, and we got our second class' hands washed and dressed them in aprons in record time.
Class B was much better, though I was still stumbling around from the last class. I got through more of my lesson plan, but wound up having to do some more songs and chants to keep the kids engaged. Meanwhile, Nana was baking cookies like a madwoman, and I was having trouble staying on task and remembering my lesson plan. I was not nearly as prepared as I'd thought! These kids were pretty forgiving, though, and seemed to be having a genuinely good time. They really enjoyed my songs and chants and crazy antics, and had a better grasp of English, so I started asking them more complicated questions. They kept up pretty well, and were all smiles by the time class was over, so I count it as a success. As I marched them out of the room, I felt I'd finally hit my stride. The kids liked me, they were playing along with my games and chants, and the parents (who were hovering at the classroom windows the entire time) were beaming. Nana distributed cookies, and we made sure everybody got a fair share. There were still plenty left over, too, so the other teachers and staff were welcome to them.
Despite my floundering, I didn't bomb entirely, so I guess I'll chalk it up as a good learning experience. I really need to adjust my lesson plan better to accommodate students with much lower and much higher levels of English understanding. There was only about a year's difference between the age groups, yet the difference in their language ability was huge!
Some things I need to keep in mind:
-Use very simple language with the younger students. Lots of gestures, pictures, speaking slowly. Repeat as necessary.
-More songs and chants!
-Come up with a game or two to review the vocabulary and the target language. (We're learning the phrase "I like...", and vocabulary includes the ingredients and actions involved in baking cookies.)
-Forget the aprons for the very young kids. Unless they can tie them themselves, this is going to suck up all the classroom time.
-Either drop washing hands entirely (though that idea makes me cringe) or get the kids to do it faster. Korean kids are VERY THOROUGH hand washers, which is good, but it takes forever to get them through the line.
-DO NOT BAKE DURING CLASS. This is a disaster. Especially when I'm flying solo, I can't watch the kids, keep them busy, and fuss around with a convection oven all at once. I'm going to pre-bake batches of cookies in the morning and hand them out at the end of class. We'll focus on the mixing part. The end.
In other news, I finally made it to a bank (thanks to Nana, who is wonderful) and changed the rest of my traveler's cheques to Korean won. \o/ This meant I could pay Sam back the money I owed him, buy things I really needed, and not have to stress as much about money. Now I just need to make sure it lasts me until November 10th. Depending on how much utilities cost, this could be difficult. T_T
I think I'll call it an early night. I am so deeply, deeply tired and sore to my bones. Especially my legs and lower back. I got a heck of a workout today!