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First Week of Heston in Gettysburg :)

June 10, 2011

Hello everyone,

It is about time I start bloggin too and I have just the right amount of thoughts, feelings and new experiences to share! Maybe I should start with our house and the wonderful team we seem to be. I think it is the best feeling to come home after work and actually have friends around you. We all had a great night last evening.. when Emily turned two.. (you will see the pictures soon). Anyway even though we didn’t have twenty candles, it was still a lot of fun together!

When it comes to work..there is a whole lot! It’s been a week so for and I have only started teaching at the LIU, but it is absolutely great. I think my first AHA moment was this Tuesday when I realized that not only were my students beginners but they hardly new any English..and I don’t know Spanish. It hasn’t been a big problem so far because we use body language to make sure everyone is on the same page; however, it is something which made me reconsider my ideas and what I want to teach them. To begin with, I had to pace down and try to understand what the families coming to the LIU need. I definitely had to slow down and find the best way to interact with them. It just struck me how things which I take for granted (for example setting up and email account and sending an email) can be a real challenge for someone, especially here in the US where everyone uses so many technical gadgets on a daily basis.

I’m glad that I quickly managed to adapt myself the classroom needs and after four lessons I feel a lot more ready and enthusiastic for the rest of the summer. We are now playing classroom games, which involve basic English and I am working on coming up with some new ideas, such as a fake market night, so that the parents can practice some everyday language skills. There was a woman who shared that it was embarrassing for her to go shopping since she would have to ask her children to translate all the time. Thus, I think it is really important to provide the families with some real life knowledge so that they overcome the unpleasant feeling of communicating in English. Other things happen in the classroom as well because I just cannot ignore the necessity of actually studying grammar, reading, and writing. As a bilingual speaker I think I know how crucial it is to have structured knowledge and to upgrade what you abilities. I think I have always had a penchant for teaching and there is something coming from inside which just makes me visualize a lesson and imagine all of the things which can be done to enrich the students. So this week it became clear to me that even when you start from scratch you should not forget about the hard-core teaching methods. These include a lot of writing on the board, many explanations and of course homework..! Everyone has been pretty dilligent so far and I think I will try to push them a little more as time passes by 🙂

The only thing which I find difficult to deal with is that there is not regular attendance. Some people skip classes because of work or family reasons and some go to both the morning and evening sessions. This means that I cannot make as much progress with the material as I initially expected because there are many gaps and many questions which come up. I might have to explain the present simple tense two or three times without being able to start a new chapter from the textbook. This doesn’t mean that the students do not benefit from the lessons, I think it is more of a big deal for me since I’ve always been going to school and I have many studying habits, which I realize I should not expect from the families I’m teaching now.

During the last day of work I am getting ready for a DC field trip this Sunday and I’m also working on setting up some more events and sessions for the migrant community of mainly Mexican and Puerto Rican families here. All of this makes my days and I want to put more and more efforts because I realize how lucky we all are to be where we are and to have access to the education and resources around us!

Have a good weekend, CPS crew!

Aleks

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