Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weapons of teaching warfare.

The month of January has almost come to an end, and with it comes the end of Winter Camps. Virtually every foreign teacher has their own personal version of hell they can relay from camp (although some teachers lucked out and actually loved their placement), but the bottom line is that the life-sucking power from these programs really took a hit on blog posts.

I find it only appropriate to pass along some wisdom and humor at this point. While the students were learning vocabulary and grammar, what was I learning?

I mean, besides the Korean word for period (마침표, or ma-chim-pyo), since my students can never remember to use one and it's really annoying

Well, when you go into the classroom battle zone, sometimes it's good to be prepared with teaching weapons. These items are absolutely not necessaries for a teacher (and depending on the classroom could even be a distraction), but in the world of edutainment, they are definitely useful tools that gain student interest and focus attention on the lesson. Obviously, Winter Camp was the perfect place to introduce these weapons of classroom warfare into my teaching routine.

1. Pointer
For Guest English teachers, 'listen and repeat after me' drill portions of a lesson are a necessary part of student-teacher interaction. It's useful to have something to point with, especially if you're short and the television screens are at an uncomfortable height above your head (and you're wearing a short dress in a room of 6th grade boys... it may have happened once). Pointers are also a universal symbol of power among your students, so you're sure to earn some street cred if you carry it around with a stoic look on your face (although I don't know how much my kids respect this one since it looks like the gesture for 'scissors' in Korean Rock-Paper-Scissors).

2. Soft Ball
For games, random quizzing, or a de-stress mechanism, I highly recommend the squishy ball. 'Pass the Ball' games are pretty common in Korean lessons, so playing ball games may not even take too much explanation (which can be a challenge for some English teachers). Not to mention, if you can juggle or do anything else somewhat impressive, more street cred!

3. Big Plastic Whistle
Although used sparingly, this is probably my favorite teaching tool. The big plastic whistle was a gift from another native teacher specifically for Winter Camp, and it has been the envy of many a teacher since its arrival into my life. Its use is also multi-faceted-- games, Sports Days, or bringing a 20-some group of rowdy Korean students to their seats in mere seconds-- making it a really awesome addition to my armory. I generally keep this baby hidden so it never loses its shock value when I pull it out of my bag of tricks.

Remember, teaching has way more to do with methodology, commitment to the learning objectives, classroom management, and passion for student success than the flash and frills of some dollar-store toys... but as edutainers in a world where the native language is not our own, sometimes it's okay to stick with the old adage that all's fair in love and war. And teaching definitely falls into both categories.

PS: If anyone caught the irony of the missing period in this post, give yourself a cookie.
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1 comment:

  1. Whistle!! These are all brilliant, I may be making a trip to stand-test-of-time dollar store. Always love these posts:)