Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuttle Update

Well, week one of classes for the 2011 school year is finally over. Nineteen to go.

A few observations about the new crop of "freshyear" students: they seem on the whole a better prepared lot, in their English at least, though also freer, more talkative and less scared than previous groups; of 560 of them, 26 or maybe a few more are left-handed, a percentage which seems to be increasing every year; alas, nary an interesting pencilbox to be seen.

I have almost an entire new crop of co-teachers, only one returning from last year. One of the others has been at the school for a while, but never co-taught with me before. The rest are all new teachers. This is good and bad: good in that they have no baggage about what they should do and don't seem inclined to sit at the back and "take a rest" or read the newspaper; bad in that I cannot necessarily rely on them to keep me in the swing of what's going on at school--cancellations for standardized testing, meetings and such.

For the next month or so, my lessons will run from Thursday to Wednesday, so I have two new lessons tomorrow: first grade (remember that means 10th grade to USAns) will create our class rules; and second grade will learn about dating--Korean girls are more attracted to boys who can speak English, according to a survey. Part of this lesson is watching a video and answering questions about it.

Alas, my classroom sound system wasn't working on Monday (though it was fine on Friday afternoon), so the dude came to fix it this afternoon. During a class. And failed.

One of my new co-teachers, Mr Kim (who also works part-time for the tech desk, he told me), tried to switch out the amplifier with the one in the other, seldom-used, English classroom. But that didn't do the trick either. So my Plan B was just to hold 2nd grade classes in that room until the problem could be worked out, and Mr Kim returned the amplifier.

Now, that classroom has a much more complex sound system (though the identical amp running the PA) because it is essentially a listening lab, with student headsets and microphones wired up. Once he hooked everything up again, we now had two non-operational sound systems. Plan C, find some speakers and run them directly off my classroom computer. (Plan D would be make up a new lesson.)

While Mr Kim trotted off to find some ordinary computer-type speakers, I double-checked his work and found he had plugged the speaker cord in the microphone jack. Back to Plan B, I guess, and there's 45 minutes of my life I'll never see again.

Still, it's hard to fault a guy for trying to help, and I can say that he has great promise as a co-teacher, having in one week shown himself very quick to pick up on when to speak, when to move, how to interact with me as well as the students.

Also, did I mention the "touch" part of my big touch-screen is on the fritz?


kevin.thurston said...

pretty much every reason i do everything i can to make my lessons tech-free (or not reliant).

Tuttle said...

well, everyone has their own style. I have had roughly 750 class sessions since I've been at this school, and this is the first time I can remember that the technology has gone haywire. I won't forgo using the most effective tools at my disposal because of a 0.4% failure rate--that just doesn't make sense to me. And really, it's not even failure--I just have to use a different room.

One may wonder about "the most effective tools", but this is exactly what I did my research review on this winter. And it turns out without question or equivocation that multimedia glosses, highly visible illustrations and subtitled videos are the most effective means of presentation.

Certainly presentation is only one aspect of teaching, but it is there, and it is important.

Chris said...

hey - I know a little about subtitles - ask me next time we meet. I had an interesting discussion with some educators back in the USA last year about that.

Tuttle said...

Chris: I hadn't thought about that fact! There may be a business opportunity here!

kevin.thurston said...

then the english speaking penguin robots shall win! ;)

i think a big difference is that you have a room that is dedicated to you. i travel from class to class so this version of powerpoint displays different than this version and this computer has a virus because of what the kids downloaded, etc.

conformation word: stisipo

Kevin stisipos too much technology in the classroom.

Tanner Brown said...

That was a two-"alas" post.

Da-da da-da-da, putting on the fritz.