Thursday, July 31, 2003

Such bullshit

Hello my friends!

Well, another shit day for me here in glamorous Prague. As you know, I had to teach my first grammar lesson today. Would you like to hear how it went? Well, sit back because I'm going to tell you anyway! :-)

I was really sick last night, too sick to plan anything before this morning. So, I spent the morning and afternoon planning what I could. I could have called in sick (we're allowed to miss a couple days), but I was better this morning, and plus my not being there would have meant that the assessor would have to teach my course, and I didn't want to do that. Anyway, it was a bit frantic, but I felt OK going into the lesson, and the lesson itself *I THOUGHT* went pretty well, all things considered. The students were responsive, and when I went around and listened to them (or read their writing on their worksheets), they all seemed to be getting it. Granted, it was a bit of a review for them, but students need review (or as the Brits here would say-"revision").

Anyway, the gist is that I thought it went fine, my fellow CELTA students that were observing thought it went fine, and then during the feedback session with the assessor, she totally ripped me to shreds in front of everyone. And she put a check next to "Does not meet the requirement for this stage" on my assessment. It was horrible. It was all I could do not to cry. And this is ordinarily a nice woman, so I was a little taken aback. Anyway, I managed to get out of the classroom without crying, but then I was stuck in the hallway because we had to wait for the classroom where we store our files to finish being used before we could file away our assessments for the night. And while I was out there, a couple of the people that were in my feedback session came out and told me that they thought Betty was really harsh on me, and then of course that started me crying. So, I asked my friend to file my stuff for me and I left before anyone else could see me cry. And the shitty part is that I just wanted to go home and bawl for a couple hours, but I had to fucking go and meet this guy about an apartment. And I probably won't pass the course anyway, so what will I need an apartment for?? (The apartment was nice, actually, so I told him I would be interested. I'm supposed to hear back from him by the end of the week.)

Anyway, we switch to teaching the lower level group next week, and I have to teach on the first day, so that will probably be crap too. In our one-on-one session yesterday, the head of the course, Shaun, the one with the enormous crotch who has been observing me up until today, told me that he has seen a lot of progression and that right now I am a "solid pass". So, after talking with him, I felt absolutely wonderful and quite confident. After this afternoon, though, I feel really shitty about the whole thing. Some of the woman's comments were out and out wrong. She said that I seemed not to care what the students were doing while they were working in pairs and in reality, I went around several times to each and every pair, crouching down next to them so that I could hear specifically what they were saying, and when they were writing, I made sure to go around and read what they had down, help them with any questions, correct any errors, talk to them to make sure they were understanding the material. In fact, I would say that it was very comprehensive and the best I've done on checking them while they're working and this bitch was acting like I was sitting on a chair the whole time doing nothing. I am very mad about that comment, actually, because it's nothing but an out and out lie.

Right now, of course, I feel like I'm going to fail, so that just makes me want to come home again. This is probably not going to be the case (about failing), and I know that I'm just being emotional right now, but goddammit, I know I'm not that bad! Let me tell you about one of the guys in my TP group. Rob. He's a late 40-something Australian guy, kind of shoddy in appearance, but a nice guy. Anyway, his first grammar lesson, he spent mumbling constantly, with his back to the class half the time, looking at what he had written on the board and talking to himself about whether or not it was right. It was fucking painful to watch. I delivered a clear lesson on phrases of obligation (must, should, have to, etc...), elicited answers from the class, gave them two activities to do, one of which involved oral practice and one written, and at the end they were having fun and getting most of the answers right.

So, what did I do that got me torn apart? Well, I was too "teacher-centered". For the first part of the lesson, I stood at the board and wrote down the key-point answers the students gave me. When they couldn't come up with the answer, I asked them questions to try to get it out of them, (which worked most of the time) and when that didn't work, I gave it to them. What else could I have done?? It was for this I was most lambasted. And the teacher also didn't think that I had any clear idea that the students were understanding the material. Well, since she didn't bother to get up and walk around (like I did) to check their answers while speaking and while writing, then how could she possibly know that? She based that entirely on who answered the questions during the review at the end.

Do you know of any way to teach a comprehensive lesson on phrases of obligation within 40 minutes (during which you're not allowed to lecture in any way-that would be too "teacher-centered"), where you have time at the end to spend with each individual student (and there are 13 of them) to make absolutely certain that every single one of them has the material down 100%? Because I sure as fuck don't. But that was what was wrong with my lesson today, and so consequently I stand a serious chance of failing this course. And it really is a serious chance-I'm not just blowing things out of proportion. Because of the short time we're in the course, everything counts for a lot.

I don't know...I was really sad, but now I feel kind of angry. I don't even want to see this woman tomorrow, let alone be observed by her again. And the ironic thing is that Shaun was also capable of being hyper-critical, and he was an asshole about it at times, but he always did manage to put in some comments that were solidly positive. Betty was completely negative with me today, and maybe said 2 nice things that were essentially buried under the mountain of criticism. They were that I knew the material well, and I had a good rapport with the class. Whooptie-doo! Her attitude was like, "You should have fucking known better, and I expected more out of you." Christ, it's only my 4th time teaching ever, and my very first doing a grammar lesson, plus you've never even seen me teach before, bitch!

*Sigh* OK, I'm going to stop bitching now. :-) I just really needed to get that off my chest. If I could afford it, I would call you all individually and cry on your shoulders, but I'm only a poor church mouse. :-(

Anyway, I'm off to my lonely little apartment to watch some black and white Czech TV and cry myself to sleep. If only I had remembered to bring my "FUCK YOU BETTY" t-shirt to Prague with me, I'd wear it to class tomorrow. ;-) Take care everyone and I'll email you again maybe this weekend. :-) they say over here. :-)

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