Last week was our first week of teaching!! Surprisingly, we managed to get by without any major debacles despite our whole cluster (except me) battling a case of the flu.
So far, our cluster partner teachers five classes a week: 5th grade twice a week, 6th grade, 8th grade and 10th grade. I am amazed by how much the students’ English ability and maturity level drastically changes from the 5th grade to 10th grade. Lauren and Larry essentially have to entertain the 5th graders and do everything they can to teach them English with managing their endless energy. Whereas, Sarah and I have to do everything we can to energize our 10th graders and make them understand they need English to graduate from University in two years. The hardest part about planning the lessons is accommodating these drastically different ability levels in the same classroom. Unlike my high school in the states, all academic levels in each grade are in the same class. That means we can have normal speed conversation with some students while others don’t even understand ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. Since Ukrainian teachers are determined to be good teachers or bad teachers by how much their students lean, we have been told most teachers simply pay no attention to the students who are slow and don’t put forth academic interest. We have been told to forget about them and understand that they have no interest in pursuing an academic career, and that is okay because the country needs bricklayers and plumbers as much as they need University graduates.
Another element of Ukrainian teaching that fascinates me is the strict national law requiring teachers to have lesson plans on them at all times and structure their lesson plans in the following mannar: Warm-up, Presentation of New Material, Practice of New Material, Application of New Material, Sum-up & Homework Assignment Presentation. Although I agree this is an excellent method, I am amazing that such a specific method is so strictly enforced throughout the entire country without any flexibility. Since I wasn’t a teacher in the States, I am unfamiliar with the methodologies enforced there, but I cannot imagine it was as specific as here in Ukraine. If anybody has some insite into the US method I’d love to hear it…
Tomorrow my cluster and I are visiting Kiev, the capital of Ukraine! It will be a 2 hour bus ride each way, but I am very excited!