For the last few months, my school’s been working on a new program for younger children. As well as the HFRB model works for 3rd to 6th graders, it needs some heavy modification for 1st and 2nd graders. It’s basically my project. Instead of meeting twice a week for two hours each time, like our normal classes do, these classes will meet four days a week for 90 minutes each time. The curriculum includes cultural studies and geography at lower levels; there’s far less taped and written homework; games will be played in class… in short, it’s a big step away from HFRB style schools. It’s even less like big chain schools, though. Teachers will all have to be able to speak Chinese well. We’ll use the same oral spelling drills that we’ve had so much success with in our older classes. As soon as the kids know about 500 words, we’ll start with extensive reading. Oh, and teachers will all have to be pretty strict in class. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any fun in class, it just means teachers will have to be able to rope the kids back in pretty quickly. This program could end up as good as the one Ross runs out in Neihu (which I have to admit is one of the best ESL programs I’ve ever seen), or it could fail miserably. It’s all on my shoulders.
The parents’ meeting I conducted earlier went far better than we could have expected, and so many kids signed up that we were able to break them into two classes- one for first graders and another for second graders. Today is the first day back from the break. My boss, Ron, is still on vacation, so I have to sub his classes this evening. With my 1st and 2nd grader classes running from 1:30-3:00, and 3:15 -4:45; and Ron’s classes from 5:00-7:00, and 7:30-9:30 I came into the office at eleven this morning, psyched but nervous. I was a little concerned when I found that the classroom wasn’t ready, and we didn’t have some of the teaching materials I had expected. Still, the textbooks were under the office desk, so I started preparing for my classes. By 1PM, the secretary still hadn’t shown up. This put me in a bit of a panic. I can distribute all of the books to the children, and write out place cards with their names (Chinese, of course) for each desk. I just wasn’t expecting to have to. I had to find the name lists quickly and prepare a seating chart before class. Since I had already reviewed my lesson plan, all I had to do was get the books and name lists ready, and write the initial comprehension vocabulary, capital and lowercase letters A-D, and syllables that could be composed from them the whiteboard. But then the phone rang. And the secretary still wasn’t there yet. At this point I was getting a little frayed, but took care of the call. Then, I remembered that I had the secretary’s phone number saved in my gmail account, so I looked it up and gave her a ring. My class doesn’t start until next week. I feel like a moron.