Classroom Chaos

While my classes may be slowing down in advance of my trip to the US, this week at Inkreadable was anything but quiet. In last week’s post, I mentioned that I would be doing a trial lesson with the Conversation Playground later in the afternoon? Well, I did. Once again in Amstelveen and had my first experience in a Dutch primary school. It was interesting, to say the least. We started off the lesson with me introducing myself and having the kids find any word with the letters of the alphabet in English, make a sentence with that word, and shoot a basketball. This allowed Dennis (we’ll call him Dennis) to prep for the rest of the games. It was quite interesting because I had never seen this particular game t wondered how I could adopt them in other aspects of teaching. The second game that was not as successful was using the past tense in English to talk about somewhere the kids had gone, and the future tense of going to to talk about something they would do later that day. And while the kids came up with interesting sentences, I think they got a little bit bored. I think one of the ways that we could have kept them engaged was to make that portion of the game as kinesthetic as the others. The last time we played it was a game called spaghetti wars and we had the kids build a very high spaghetti tower using marshmallows and spaghetti sticks.  For the record, marshmallows are gross, and Dutch marshmallows ae worse than Kraft’s Jet-Puffed ones The tallest tower was 86 cm and the shortest was 21 cm. The day was not without its drama. In a true testament to 12-year-old angst,, one of the girls got pissed off when one of the boys told her “you did nothing so can you at least clean up”, which caused her to storm out of the class shouting “all boys are… (A word I can’t write)!”. Here’s a hint though: it starts with a C and ends with a T but it was the Dutch version. Of course, I did not hear this myself but had to hear it third-party from Dennis. He was justifiably annoyed because she shouted it at the top of her lungs and two teachers heard it, turned around and knew exactly where she’d come from. So Dennis now had to write an email to the headmaster of the school, as well as the parents of the kids involved to make it less of a deal than it already was. Because of course, it reflects badly on the Conversation Playground.

Alas, dear reader, the chaos continued into the evening and this time involved me directly. I substitute a class for TEC that evening on email writing. It started out well enough with me giving some examples of email phrases and an effective way to write an email out to the students, then we proceeded to work through some of the exercises in the intermediate business English book that is published by TEC. Here’s where it gets a little bit complicated. I don’t think I did anything particularly wrong but I felt that my timing was off, that my students were not engaged and were very quiet. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I could’ve engaged the students anymore as it was a writing exercise and they didn’t seem to want to pair up. If it was just a one-off, I would feel a little bit better about saying “screw it”. But as I have to see them tonight as well, I spent a very fraught week trying to figure out how to teach them and get them engaged. I did ask them for feedback and they said they wanted some scenarios that they could write emails for that ha a role play quality role-play. So that’s what I spent some time doing before I left for Edinburgh on Friday. We’ll see how what I’ve come up with works tonight.

There was no writing for me this week as I went to a chocolate fair where I spent a total of 15 minutes trying to look for food, and another 15 minutes looking for chocolate. It was a mob scene, overcrowded and had too many strobe lights. Too much stimulation all around forced my friend tonight to leave quickly and go find someplace quiet to eat. I am hoping that next week will be better Both in terms of writing and in terms of teaching. Next week will mark my last class of this package with my Dutch real estate guys before heading off to the States. And I’m happy to report that they decided to continue with me.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

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