I’ve ended up teaching far more than usual this week due to various teachers being off sick. None of them had the dreaded lurgy fortunately – just the standard fresher’s flu that tends to hit at this point in the year!
Without cover I would have had two lessons with my beginner teen group this week, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday, and a Polish lesson on Friday. The rest of the my time would have been spent on my responsibilities as a Director of Studies: drop-in observations, level meetings (collaborative planning meetings), and ad hoc teacher support are the main things at this point in the year.
Instead I taught 7 lessons, covering a whole range of lesson types and group sizes:
- Monday: cover A2.2 teens on Zoom (8 or 9 students – can’t remember!)
- Tuesday: my beginner teens on Zoom (4 students), cover A2.1 young learners in the classroom (6 students)
- Wednesday: cover A2.1 young learners in the classroom (11), cover FCE adults on Zoom (8 or 9)
- Thursday: my beginner teens in the classroom, cover A2.1 young learners on Zoom (the same group as Tuesday)
- Friday: no Polish because I had some DoSsing to do to catch up on the rest of the week!
I can’t remember the last time I did this much teaching in one week, and it was so good to spend so much time with students.
I don’t normally teach exam students because I wouldn’t have time to do the marking: I love how motivated they are. I found working with them on key word transformations on Zoom to be just as effective as in the classroom, if not more so as I could see all of their answers simultaneously in the chat and refer back to them as needed (there were 8 students I think).
I’ve never really considered myself to be a natural young learner teacher, but I’ve really enjoyed the lessons this week, and the enthusiasm of the kids both online and off. We worked on the seasons in the first lessons of the week and they wrote a little profile of themselves. One child got a bit worried that he didn’t know what month his birthday was in even in Polish – a lot of teaching English is reassuring students and building their confidence, especially with young learners. It was teacher’s day, and the kids who’d brought chocolates and flowers for their normal teacher didn’t quite know what to do with them, but handed them over at break so I made sure they got to where they needed to be 🙂 In the second lesson we worked on 8 verb phrases for free time activities and the structure Do you like VERBing? They so want to communicate and end up telling you all kinds of random information: I learnt about all their pets and the ages of their mums completely spontaneously from one group.
The teens were a little more of a struggle at the start, especially as they didn’t really want their cameras on. However, the creative nature of the project lesson we did on making your own invention to solve a problem was lots of fun. They came up with shoes that could fly, a magic pen that only writes the correct answers, and FriendlyCat 1, a robot who will keep your cat company if you have to go out.
My own group was also fun to teach this week. We worked on the numbers 1-20 and phone numbers on Zoom – the whole oh/zero thing blew their minds a little bit! In the classroom we did 21-100, and I started to introduce a little bit of spelling.
Overall, it was a nice mix of classroom and online lessons, and a really enjoyable range of lesson topics.
I do like being in the classroom.
And now that Bydgoszcz will be a red zone from tomorrow, from next week all of our adult and teen classes will be fully online. Only the younger learner classes will continue to have one of their two lessons a week in the classroom.
And I couldn’t have done it without the support of my colleagues – thank you so much to Paul and Emma, the level heads for these groups, who supplied me with lesson plans which I just needed to process, rather than having to come up with something from scratch. This is one of the fantastic things about working at IH Bydgoszcz: our level meetings/collaborative planning meetings mean that our group lessons are planned together, creating something that is more solid than what any one of us could do alone. In turn, I supplied other teachers with lesson plans for the cover lessons they were doing. And our teachers who were off sick were able to take the time they needed to recover and not pass on their germs to the rest of us, thanks to the cover system.
I do like working in a supportive school.
We’ll get through this together, and we’ll be stronger as a result.
I hope that you’re getting the support you need, wherever you are.