Wednesday, December 4, 2013

First Grade

პირველი კლასის

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. 

When I was teaching elementary school in the country of Georgia I was always accompanied by a co-teacher. Our program strictly dictated that we did not teach a class without a Georgian teacher in the room – but in the realities of Georgia this didn’t always happen. Time was fluid there, and schedules, and electricity and appropriate alcohol consumption and…many things. One day I went into my 1st grade classroom and waited for my co-teacher to show up with the lesson plan. But she didn’t. It was ten minutes past the start of class time and 25 tiny people sat in their desks and stared at me eagerly. I wasn’t allowed to be in here alone. But I couldn’t very well leave a gaggle of 6-year olds while I went on a wild goose chase for a teacher that could understand my broken Georgian enough to help me out. I didn’t have a plan, I was still new, and the little ones looked at me with expectant faces, wiggling in their chairs. Mutiny would brew if I didn’t move quickly.

So I taught my very first 1st grade class.

We did hand motions, we sang songs, we drew with chalk. We had no common language but everyone was attentive and still alive and actually learning something! No one ate their eraser or hit another kid or started an impromptu and rowdy drum circle (which had happened in other classes).

I never actually found out what happened to my co-teacher, but from then on, 1st grade was my very own class. A Georgian faculty member would sit in the back reading or looking on, but I taught the class. I used wiggle breaks and stickers and smiley faces and songs and those little tiny things, with no knowledge of reading or writing or English at all, learned their alphabet and numbers and colors and Wheels on the Bus and how to draw hand turkeys.  I worked hard in all my classes (I taught through the 6th grade) but 1st grade was my very own and I was so proud of them.

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