And that's a wrap. I spent the weekend recovering from the week of TP, and here are a few thoughts about the week overall.
This was the first time I've had an issue with discipline in the classroom.
Firstly, there was a boy who lied. A lot. Every word out of his mouth was a lie, and they were all about ridiculous things that had no bearing on anything beyond the fact that he hadn't done his homework, and the fact that his lying (and the amount of talking it involved) was incredibly disruptive for the whole class. But then again, my asking him to be quiet every few minutes was also very disruptive.
How I dealt with it:
The students have to line up before entering the class, and may only enter when instructed to do so. I think this is a bit silly and wastes time, but it did give me the chance to hold the Boy Who Cried Wolf back, along with his best friend, so that I could quietly talk to them about how they disrupt each other and get no work done, and how this makes it very difficult to teach, and how much I would appreciate their cooperation in future. It worked like a charm.
Problem number 2: Homework (or the lack thereof). Geez, kids. What is it with you and not doing your homework? Even when we asked you to recite the instructions back at us. Even when you had had the instructions glued into your books for days beforehand. Even when the homework involved eating sweets. Seriously? I think the main problem here was that they had their annual fun day that day, and so they figured it would be a day of chaos and sitting in the wrong classes, and running about, and not doing work. So homework that wasn't done would go unnoticed. They were wrong. But having three teachers shouting at them for not doing it kind of put a damper on the lesson. Meh.
How I dealt with it:
It wasn't ideal, and I haven't quite worked my way around it. Basically, if the work hasn't been done, it hasn't been done. They get zero.
Let's talk about good things instead.
The absolute highlight of the week was when a very frazzled teacher ran up to us and said, "You have a free now, right? Please go supervise the grade 4s on the rugby field! Just stop them from killing each other." And we did. I spent an hour playing "I wrote a letter to my love" and "touches" and "broken telephone", got covered in grass and had enough exercise to last me a week. And they all hugged us goodbye afterwards and begged us to be their teachers forever and ever. And for the rest of the week, two or three of them would come to our class during break and draw pictures with/of us. ^______^
It made me wonder if I'm teaching the wrong phase. But then I thought about it, and I figured that everyone loves playing with cats, and petting cats, and being loved by cats. Have you ever tried to herd them? Yeah. YEAH. I think I'll stick to high school.
Another highlight (well, scattered bits of brightness that were more of a twinkling glitter effect) was the connection with certain individual students. The gamer geek boy who has a gift for debate. The boy who tries so hard to get things right that he'll spend his free sitting in your class (despite the grade 8s who are also having a lesson then) just to finish his work and ask you for spelling advice. The girl who shyly explained that her stepfather doesn't let her have sweets, so she couldn't do the homework. The boy who was terrified of his autobiography project because of his awful, awful, heartbreakingly horrible childhood (but who then got carried away with it once he realised he could include his awesome drawings and leave out the bad bits). The grade 6s who begged us to come back. The grade 11s who were hell bent on having a discussion about drugs, smoking and sex... until I cunningly turned it into an essay topic. The matrics getting excited about their upcoming matric dance. The headmaster telling us stories about his early days as a teacher.
It was a great week at a great school, and I've put it as my first choice for my term-long TP (July - September), both because I really enjoyed teaching there, and because it means I can get experience in a school where I neither speak the language nor am familiar with the culture, and because I can teach both my methods (Home and Additional English).
And hopefully during the long TP I won't need to teach 5-6 lessons a day, because their usual teacher has returned from hospital.
I'm exhausted and my immune system has taken a knock, but I think I'll survive.
Oh, and last but not least:
A grade 6 boy presented me with a red pen. An ACTUAL Red Pen of Doom! He gave it to me "for keeps". ^_^