A Week of Teaching Firsts

So this week was my first week teaching my own classes solo, and I had three firsts as a teacher. My first first, was that I was given the youngest kids possible. Now I have worked with kids and have taught in the past, but it had always been with kids who were slightly older. I think the youngest kids I’ve ever taught were in 3rd grade. The kids I was teaching now are ages 3-4. They are really really young.

One perk of having the youngest age group at EF is that you get to name them. None of the kids have English names yet, so when they come to EF we give them English names. I was able to name my students after my friends and family. So of course there is a Sid, Sandy, Danny, Jennifer, and many more. I was even able to add some funny names in like Tupac, Biggie, Dre, and Latisha. I even named a kid Muhammad (but his mom thought the name was too hard to pronounce so I had to give him another name).

We youngest age group we serve is called the class Small Stars and I have two of these classes back-to-back. They are by far my favorite classes to teach. They are not like these bratty older kids who think that they are too cool for school, they enjoy being there and you can see that they make real improvements each day.

 These are some of my students Daniel, Gabby, Misha, Ryan, and my TA Tina

My second first of the week also had to do with my Small Star class. (NOTE: all of my firsts from this week have to do with my Small Star classes). So like I said, I have two Small Star classes. And the first one last Sunday went very well. Everybody enjoyed the class and there were no real problems. I’m on cloud nine because I just taught my first solo class and I kicked its ass, and now I was about to do it again. I walk into the second class ready for the kids to scream with excitement and all of a sudden a little girl just starts bawling. I can’t get her to stop crying. I’m kinda freakin out because I’ve never had someone cry in my class before no less cry just at the sight of me. I have no clue what to do. Luckily I have a TA in my class (her name is Tina and she is Chinese. She helps control the class and translates instructions for the kids) and she was able to take the little crying girl outside and calm her down. What a shot to my confidence. I felt like I was this hideous monster of which small kids run away from in fear.

I teach the class twice a week and when I came in for the second class she cries again. So far she has cried in every class. We’ll see if it happens again.

(From L to R) Danny, Dre, Ira, Jack, Ruben The hello song dance

And my final first should be a blog in and of itself, but here it is. So I am teaching my final class on Wednesday and again it is one of the Small Stars classes. I am teaching them “my name is…” I have them in a line and they come up to me and if they say the line correctly they give me a high five (I know, a little bit corny, but it works with 3-4 year-olds). All of a sudden one of the students, Judy (who I named after my grandmother), starts crying. I look around to see what’s wrong and I see a little puddle forming at her feet. She has just peed herself in the middle of class.

This time I really start freaking out. I start screaming for the TA to come and take her to the bathroom. And the puddle is spreading and I don’t know what to do. (Meanwhile, the other students aren’t even flinching. Maybe it because peeing in public is no big deal for kids. All the time I see parents hold their kids out away from them over the streets so their kid can go to the bathroom or they squat in the middle of the street to pee). So I gather the kids and try and find another room. The only room that is open is a small room with no windows and no AC. So here I am trying to usher ten 3-4 year olds into a new class while trying to stay calm myself. But since there is no AC I am sweating bullets and my shirt is all wet and I am jumping up and down to try and keep the students attention because I don’t have the help of my TA and I am still new to this teaching thing.

Things quickly turn into a total debacle. Judy has returned to class and you would think that she would be a little embarrassed for having peed herself in the middle of a classroom, but no, she is raising her hand, participating, and answering every question correctly. I have the kids sit on the floor in a circle while I use the computer in the room to do a learning exercise. (NOTE: I know I am going to hell for this but I have to tell you). So Judy was wearing a dress that day and the TA had removed her underwear because she peed in them. So everyone is sitting cross-legged on the floor and Judy is over there in the corner sitting with the soles of her feet together in the butterfly position. So, every time I looked over to her side of the class I see this little girl flashing me. It was really awkward and I didn’t know what to do. I started laughing to myself because I felt so awkward. I immediately tell everyone to go back to his or her seat and sit down. Luckily class was almost over and I ended class right then and there.

So I hope you enjoyed some of my teaching firsts, I just wanted to let you guys know what I’m dealing with.

From L to R: Jack, Ruben, Latisha, Daniel, Misha, Tuvin


About JoelS

Spending a year teaching English and saving the world in China
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One Response to A Week of Teaching Firsts

  1. Anthony says:

    Sounds like you’re doing a good job. Your class will be singing showtunes in no time.

    I must admit though, I’m a little bit disappointed you didn’t name any of your kids ‘meat loaf.’ get on that. asap.

    and about the girl who’s crying. it’s ok. i used to cry every time i saw you, it gets a little bit better each time. She’ll learn to live with it.

    with love from the u s of a,


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