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English First – Shijiazhuang China

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Growing Up

Teaching at EF is quite exciting and challenging because of the varying levels of English learners we have filtering through.  I have students ranging from four to eighteen years old and everything in between.  Our young learners start as Small Stars students’ and then move up to High Flyers, Trailblazers, Super Blazers, and Real English.  At the end of each Small Stars level, we hold a graduation ceremony for the parents and the students.  I have always heard of the SS graduation but only recently did I actually have the opportunity to experience such an exciting event.  My SS Green class, made up of seven five year olds, just finished the level and moved up to the SS Orange level.

The Procedure

Throughout the semester, the Teaching Assistant actively takes pictures of the class to capture different moments and lessons.  These pictures, joined with a graduation song, are used to show the parents the different activities and the fun we have during the learning process.  Before class, I got together with the Teaching Assistant to check out the photos and go over the procedure for the graduation ceremony.  The plan was this; review different lexical sets and grammar points learned in the book for the first 30 minutes, quickly put on my graduation gown and then help her with the children’s gowns, and invite the parents in to watch the second half of the class.

The process seemed easy enough but I became kind of nervous.  Even though I’ve been teaching for quite a few months, I still get nervous in front of the parents.  I did what I do whenever I get nervous; plan, over plan, go over the plan, and visualize the plan.  By the end of the day, I had well over 60 minutes planned even though it was supposed to stay within that parameter.  I picked out a couple specific grammar structures and I wanted to highlight in front of the parents and a variety of different vocabulary sets.  I wanted to practice putting everything together so that when the parents came in, everything would run smoothly.  We were going to practice by playing games and getting the kids up and energized.  It was a fool proof plan and I was ready for the graduation.

Execution

Even though I had plenty of time to prepare and get everything in order, I was still running around hastily before the class.  I made it into class with what I thought to be everything I needed.  I immediately started drilling vocabulary with the kids, but for some reason they weren’t remembering all of the words.  The TA informed me that we hadn’t covered all of the flashcards I was drilling and I was quite confused.  Apparently while running around, I grabbed the entire set of food flashcards instead of picking out the specific words we studied.  What a rookie mistake!  Fortunately, she realized what had happened and informed me so that we could move on.

The rest of the review went fairly smoothly and when the clock struck 30, we were ready to go.  We quickly transformed into our graduation attire, and invited the parents in for the second half.  After the slideshow and graduation music, I called each individual student up to the front of the class and asked them a series of questions to highlight the material covered.  After the oral presentation, I gifted each and every student with a certificate, verifying their participation and completion of the Small Stars course.  Some of the students were quite shy but still gave it all of their effort.  I have this one student named Gina, who is terribly shy in class.  It takes everything I have to get her to whisper an answer in my ear and then I have to congratulate her in a very complimentary and over the top way.  She has made quite a bit of progress and she even spoke slightly louder than a whisper during the graduation.  She is so terrified, yet so cute, when she is in my class.  I am proud of her for her efforts as well as the other students for being on their best behavior.

Wrap Up

The kids ended up doing great and performed to the best of their abilities when it counted.  I do not know why I always get nervous because it always ends up working out in the end.  It is probably better that way because then I overcompensate.  At the end of the graduation, the parents flooded us with pictures.  I co-taught this class with a local teacher named, Jane, and she came in after the ceremony to jump in with all of the pictures.  It was quite an unusual and exciting experience and I look forward to my next graduation!

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English First – Shijiazhuang China

This school is holding interviews for teaching jobs now, apply today!
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About the Author:

Andrew Ho-Lung
Andrew Ho-Lung is an English Teacher at EF Shijiazhuang.
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