< class="pagetitle">Posts Tagged “lesson plans”

I know I’ve been a bit of an absent blogger lately. Work’s been kicking my butt, and I’m one of those people who falls into the “if I can’t do it perfectly, then I won’t do it at all” trap sometimes. So to combat that tendency a little bit, I’m going to throw up some information in what I know is a less-than-ideal format. That said, here’s what I’ve been up to recently:

  • I moved in with Yuko a few months ago. Her parents weren’t thrilled with the idea at first, but they’ve since come around, which brings me to my next point:
  • I met Yuko’s parents yesterday. They were supposed to come out to Matsuyama around Christmas, but her dad hurt his back. They brought a carload of stuff, including enough food to feed a small militia for a few days. Luckily, Yuko is a fantastic cook, and the veggies her mom brought are all really fresh.
  • I applied to JET for the 2009-2010 school year, and had to go to Guam in February to interview. This created a tricky timing problem. I had to tell American Language School in April if I was going to renew my contract (set to expire in July), but JET notifies participants through May (and sometimes later) if they’re hired for positions starting in August. I ended up not renewing with ALS but not getting a JET position either, which leads to my next point:
  • I started working for a different English school here in Matsuyama. I now work for Miki Study Pals (pictured at left), a school that caters to parents who can pay for their kids to become essentially bilingual. Even though the bilingual students only represent about 10% of the students at the school, they have a bit of a “halo effect”, much like the Toyota Prius makes people associate fuel economy with Toyota.
  • I mentioned that work has been kicking my ass. I’ve been tasked with designing the curriculum for the last three months of the school year (January – March) for one of my co-teaching classes, and decided to go with a music unit. So I’ve been reading a lot of lesson plans, worksheets, and exercises that teachers have put out there on the web, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the kids, who are all around ten years old, and mostly bilingual. Then I had to wrap my head around the best way to organize and present the material. My first lesson was Saturday, and it went quite well. =)

I think that’s all of the major stuff. I’ve done some traveling with Yuko recently that I should blog about. And I keep taking photographs of weird stuff with the ultimate goal of putting them up here. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way.

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I found out a couple weeks ago that ALS had just penned a deal with a solar cell manufacturer here in Matsuyama to provide English lessons for sixty of its employees. The contract has me there for one two-hour lesson each week, for a succession of three eight week classes, twenty students in each.

That’s all well and good; I have lots of experience teaching larger groups of adults. The problem is that the company doesn’t have any specific goals, and I had just less than two weeks to create the entire course. If you’ll recall, this is my first TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) gig, and I’m just over one month into my actual teaching.

I sat down and wrote an outline of what I thought would be useful for them to know and reduced it by what we (I) couldn’t teach in sixteen hours. Ms. Semba and I sat down and hashed out a thing or two that she wanted to include, then we both sat down with Mr. Teshima, and he added a pinch or two of his own, and I somehow managed to come up with a workable set of lesson plans from everything that we all wanted to see. Let me tell you though, that was a seriously stressful time. Not as stressful as hearing I have a job in Japan if I could pack my entire house and move to a foreign country in a week and a half though, so I figured I could handle it.

Well, the first lesson was this Wednesday, and it went pretty well. Ms. Semba was there with me, and I’m very glad she was. No one there really spoke any English (what were you expecting?), so just getting to the classroom would have been a project, as their reception desk was an unmanned phone and a list of extensions (in Japanese). Also, she planned an exercise that we ended up using because they whipped through the material I had prepared faster than I thought they would.

The first lesson was good because it helped me figure out their level of English (higher than I thought it would be), and because I got to meet the students, feel out the class, and get an idea of what things will go over well and what won’t. As I’m sure Shannon (and Shannon) will back me up in saying, every classroom is different, and adjusting your plans to the audience is a crucial part of making a good lesson. My lesson plans are basically cave art at this point, scorched sticks crudely scraped on stone, so I need every little boost I can get. I’ve created handouts and set out goals and exercises, but I’m still not sure they should be called “lesson plans.” Ms. Wood tells me that creating lesson plans will soon be second nature, and I hope that’s true, because right now, just thinking about this project causes me stress.

Anyway, I have another meeting today. Wish me luck. 🙂

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