Like many other teaching days, I woke up nervous today. Teaching is like giving a concert, which is cool, I like concerts, except I've been playing violin for 15 years and teaching for about a month and a half. Often enough, my worries are justified; I've had my share of unsuccessful teaching days. To be honest, I don't think I'm a natural at teaching, or the learning curve hurts, or I've been airlifted into an alien universe where nothing makes sense.
But not today! Today was gold. Teaching felt great. Thanks, I think, to the advocacy of one of the teachers, I worked with small groups today -- only 4-5 students at a time. With only 4 kids in class, we can sit together in a circle and have a conversation. It's hard to hide, so everyone gets a chance to bust out their English moves. So effective. So suited to my personality. (Have you ever seen me thrive amongst large groups? No, you haven't. And how do I like the "I talk you listen" model? I don't.)
This was one of the first times I've felt truly effective as a teacher. I felt like what I offered them was suitable and helpful and well-executed. After so many classes of feeling like I'm not doing anything for my students but confusing them, this felt so good. I do love those little punks, and I hate to let them down.
Some choice moments:
With the 10 year-olds: "What is dinde [turkey] in English?" "Dodo!" Exceptionally witty, that one. Faire dodo is a cutesy way to say "go to bed" in French. Yes, turkey makes you want to faire dodo. (Inadvertent wit, I'm pretty sure.)
At high school: We were analyzing a political cartoon, and one of my students came up with an interpretation that I had not thought of. Not that I have a monopoly on ideas, but using language to express abstract thoughts is glorious.
In the next class, we joked around about one boy's imaginary friend. Cross-cultural humor. Also glorious.
Later that class, I explained "sweat shop" to them. It's not a funny concept, but seeing them understand "sweat" and then trying to figure out what a shop of sweat might be... good fun. I'd forgotten how weird English is.
I have honed my plans for Christmas (Plan A was sitting alone in a darkened room drinking vodka and writing bad poetry). New and improved plan is an invitation from one of the teachers to have dinner at her house.
If good classes are my favorite thing, The New Yorker magazine is a close second (especially this). Thanks for the care package, Mom!
Out for a walk this afternoon, an elderly man fell on the sidewalk. No fewer than 5 people rushed up to help him, sit with him, and make sure he got home ok (it wasn't anything serious). It is deeply reassuring to know that even on a quiet, empty afternoon, there are still at least 5 people in this town who will help you if you fall.