I really haven’t talked about what my job is like. I talked a little about it before, but that was before summer break, and this school year is a little different than before.
I’m still mostly in the Kindergarten section, which consists of Nursery, KG1, KG2, and 1st grade. There are four classes in each grade, except for Nursery. I spend most of my time with KG1 (5 year olds), because it’s their first year, and they want the kids to be able to hear a native English speaker. Nursery is for 3 & 4 year olds, but is not mandatory, so most kids start out in KG1. I also have 2nd grade for writing & spelling.
In KG1, I have each class for 1 hour per week. During this hour, I can do anything I want. Before the school year ended last year, I had to make a list of topics I wanted to do for each week. This has made my life a lot easier than it was before because now I can just look at the list, instead of picking something at the last minute and having little preparation time. I’ve done topics like numbers, colors, sorting, farm animals, etc. An hour is a lot to fill, so I usually read a book to them first, teach them something new, then do some kind of craft or activity relating to the new material. During the class, the Arabic teacher is also with me. The Arabic teachers can’t speak English, and I can’t speak Arabic, so the point of this is so the kids will only speak in English. The Arabic teacher is there to help with discipline and any crafts/activities I do with the students. I also have KG1 for two 30 minute periods each week. During the 30 minute periods, the students are separated into 3 groups, based on ability. One group is with me, one is with the classroom teacher, and one goes to the library (we have a library teacher). Small groups are great because it lets us focus on the students who are struggling.
For KG2, I have each class for 30 minutes per week. There is always an assistant with me, and she mostly helps with discipline. First I read to them, then if there’s enough time, we play Alphabet Bingo, which I brought with me from the US. I’m really not sure how beneficial this is, especially since I have limited time with them.
First grade started out a lot differently than it is now because what I was originally supposed to do just wasn’t working. I have two 30 minute periods with each First grade class. At the beginning of the year, the plan was for me to have each period in the library. The library is extremely small and isn’t really a library… it’s more like a glorified closet. So I would read to them first, then show them a video on the library computer. The library computer is a desktop, which means every time the electricity goes out (it comes back on in a few seconds because we have a generator), the computer shuts off. Oh well if you’re trying to show a video and the electricity has already gone out twice in the first 10 minutes of the class. The library also wasn’t a good idea because there are no tables, only chairs, so the kids would play with the chairs instead of paying attention. Most importantly, I felt like my time with them was useless and that they really weren’t learning anything. So one day I talked to the Head of KG and told her something had to change. So now for one of the 30 minute periods, the classes are split into two groups; one group with me, and one to the library teacher. During small groups, we do reading activities with them. I usually give the library teacher something to do with them, and I do something different, and we switch the groups the next week. I wanted to focus on reading because one of the secondary English teachers was saying that her students’ reading is very weak and that it’s probably because no one listened to them read when they were younger. For the other 30 minute class, I have them as a whole group. I have a packet for each of them that should take them a few months to complete, and while they are working on the packet, I call them each up individually to read sight words to me. I’m keeping track of their progress, but since I haven’t been doing it very long, I can’t tell yet how much of a difference it’s making. There’s been a few times where we unexpectedly got to leave early, so there’s one class I haven’t been able to start it with at all! You have to learn to just go with the flow.
In second grade, I use a writing & spelling book that has been provided by the school. Second grade classes are 45 minutes long, and I see each class once a week. There are only three classes in 2nd grade because there weren’t enough students for there to be four classes. I feel that the book they are using is a bit too challenging for them, so it’s hard to tell how much they’re actually learning.
In other news, we have a 2 week vacation coming up in the middle of January, so I’ll be traveling to Greece and Italy! Assuming everything goes according to plan…