This past week was a little bit different than other weeks. Grade 11 (the only students I teach) were taking practice IGCSE exams all week. This meant that we had a different schedule than usual. Teaching here is making me a more patient and flexible person. We found out on Monday morning, during the routine morning meeting, that there would be no formal class for grade 11 until Friday. Alright, I said to myself, I’ll just go with it! I was relieved to know that I would have the opportunity to plan a unique lesson for Friday that didn’t have to conform to any specific standards or content area.
One of the IGCSE subjects that students were preparing for was English. Their English exams include a written test that covers reading and writing and an oral conversation test. The students were most anxious for the conversation test. See, they’re great at studying, and they are more than willing to work hard, but finding someone to practice conversing with in English (that can actually help you with pronunciation and other stuff) is hard to find in Palembang. Lucky for the students of Sampoerna Academy, there are 4 enthusiastic, native-speaking bule who are more than willing to help! Joe had the great idea to put up a sign-up sheet for students to choose times to come and practice speaking English with one of us. It was an tremendous success! We normally go home around 3:30 every day, but we were completely booked until 5 every day! All we did was practice conversing. Their real oral exams were on Friday and Saturday, so we knew that we weren’t going to help them learn more English in 3 short days. Our goal was to simply get them talking and help them be more comfortable and confident with the skills they do have. I felt like I was actually doing something to help the students. I wasn’t teaching math, but that’s okay. I was using a skill that I happen to have (speaking English) to help students succeed. That’s enough for me!
On Friday, we had normal class. We didn’t have specific content to cover, so I had free reign. I decided that I wanted to play a game. The students had a stressful week with their exams, and I thought that it would be fun to take a break from the normal math class with a little friendly competition. We played Jeopardy because then it was easy for me to work in practice SAT and ACT questions. The students and teachers have wanted us to help them prepare for American university entrance exams, so this was a golden opportunity. My Jeopardy categories included trigonometry, polar and Cartesian coordinates, algebra, SAT practice, and ACT practice. The students here LOVE competition… that’s probably an understatement. The LIVE for competition. We broke into teams, and off we went! I could tell the students enjoyed the game, so it was a lot of fun. I’m going to use the same lesson this coming Tuesday with other other section of grade 11. Hopefully, by the third time I do the lesson, it will be perfect!