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Amazing Anzhelika had arranged for us to observe 4 English classes, a 2nd grade, a 4th grade, a 6th grade, an 8th grade and then her grade 10. It was fascinating to see these incredible teachers in action.
As the classes are English as a Foreign Language classes, they are incredibly structured. Each lesson started out a similar way. There was a review of topics OR a moment to write down the night's homework, and then the topic was either introduced or reviewed, oral work was done, group work or partner work was done, there was listening, reading and a little writing. At the end of the lesson there was content review and then homework was assigned.
My TGC partner, Cindy Spoon, and I spent some time discussing just how structured the lessons were compared to how we would teach the same topics. We both remembered taking foreign language classes and those classes were just about as structured as well.
1. The 2nd graders were doing multiplication (easily!) in their practice of English numbers from 1 - 20.
2. Class periods were 40 minutes long and students had 20 minute breaks between classes to chat, speak with teachers for review or go to the "Canteen" to get a snack.
3. Most of the time, when questions were answered incorrectly, the student was given 1 chance to fix their error and then the teacher moved on. In America, we tend to stick with a student until they get to the right question, or we validate their attempt with a "nice try!" or "Almost!"
4. Each class started with a formal greeting. Students were standing and some variation of the following conversation was had:
Teacher: Good morning, class!
Class: Good morning, teacher!
Teacher: How are you today?
Class: We are fine, how are you?
Teacher: I am fine, thank you. You may all sit down.
6. Even when the teacher was having computer problems and was occupied with trying to fix it, the students sat quietly, without getting out of their chairs, without playing, without messing with their neighbors. There was some whispering, but it wasn't obnoxious or loud.
7. All the teachers were dressed formally, in suits or dresses and wearing high heels. The students were all dressed nicely, nothing tattered or slovenly. Their clothes were either school uniforms, or they looked like they stepped out of a magazine.
We will be back at the school tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday next week and I will have more pictures and get to speak with the students more about the guiding question. I will also be teaching some lessons soon. I can't wait.