Our school has one particular grade which causes a little more stress than any of the others. 5th Grade.
This class has around 40 student, all of who are around 10 years old. These students are so lovable but so crazy that it is almost impossible to get anything done with one teacher. Especially because there are eight or so of them who are significantly behind the rest of the class.
They aren’t just behind in English, but every subject. So five weeks ago, at the end of the last semester, all of the teachers came together to come up with a solution for those eight students. Part of the solution was to give them to me to teach.
This was a shock for me, not only because I usually teach 8th– 10th grade rather than younger grades, but because these were the students who needed more help than you could ever imagine. They know one word in English, Hello. I was only given 1 hour a week and also wasn’t given a space to work with them. We would switch between the computer lab (which doesn’t have a white board or even lights) and working outside. It was awful. Imagine trying to teach 8 ten year olds while the is a soccer game going on fifteen feet away? There was no focus at all.
I spent three weeks try to find a way for them to enjoy learning English and not pout the entire time because they were taken away from their friends. We played games and they would do well during class but, because I only got 1 hour a week with them and was told I shouldn’t give out homework because they won’t do it anyways, we had to start from square one each Monday afternoon.
Well last week, when I was told to go in an empty, dirty room to teach my class, I got a little fed up. I went and talked with the director about the state of the students, the lack of time and space we had and how, under these conditions, my students would be in the exact same place when I leave if things don’t change.
Well, this week I got my own space to teach in and my students stay after school for an extra 30 minutes a few times a week to further their learning. The progress in 3 days has been spectacular. Who know what desks and an extra hour and a half would do?
My students have their first quiz on Monday, and even though it is very basic, I think it is going to go really well for them. This might be the first time they ever see a 10/10 on any test they’ve taken. They have practiced and practiced and practiced this week and I think (I hope) they’ve got it!
One student in particular, who comes from a less than desirable home life, has completely changed his attitude this week and I can’t help but to think the environment has something to do with it. He worked extremely hard one day in class and got a 100% on his homework that night. I cannot say for sure, but I think it was his first even 100% and oh goodness was he proud. Every day after that he has come into my class with a smile on his face, he hasn’t gotten into any fights (which is a big deal for him), and when I post questions on the board he runs over and whispers the answer in my ear. He is finally proud of himself and I personally cannot wait to see how he does on his test on Monday. He is going to rock it.
So, here is a link to the quiz if you want to take a look.