Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Exit Spring Semester

Another semester in the books with 39 more smiling ESL students hopefully learning a little something along the way. I had previously spent the first part of the semester at the Discovery Middle School, a private privileged school that presented some unique challenges. I was teaching 3 groups of students who were elite and entitled and they literally ran the school. Some were great students but most were Hyenas and a huge challenge. I embraced this as best I could but when the school year ended in July I had a huge sense of relief (not the first teacher to feel this way with this school). I transferred full time to the Heslington ESL Language Institute full time with 5 classes of one hour each.
Co Teachers and Classes
My time in Mexico got off to a bit of a bumpy start. After 6 months in Nicaragua and another 6 weeks on the road traveling I hit Mexico. Within days I was greeted with a crazy bout of food poisoning which lasted over 2 weeks. I managed to get to Palenque, Oaxaca and San Cristobal but was a bit spirit was limited. I hit Tehuacan, found my apartment and settled in for what was to be a 3 month teaching contract.

The co-teachers and staff at Heslington were / are some of the nicest and helpful I have met along the way. Others were complete douche bags but that is going to happen isn't it? They were next on the list to leave so their shared time was limited. I was also now in shared housing with various personalities which was survivable as I had my own room to escape to when I did not want to deal with what became the daily "whining and complaining routine" of a few of my housemates.

10am Fluency Workshop 1
My schedule was now a breeze after the end of Discovery. A morning fluency class at 10 am started my day, and what a class it was. In my short time as an ESL this was by and far the most energetic, fun, inspired and hilarious class I have taught. Their fed off each others energy and never once did I hear the moan of "ah teacher this is boring" even when my lesson plan sucked. They embraced it and just rolled with it. The picture is missing a few of the students who contributed to the mayhem and madness that became the class.

4:00 Pre - Intermediate
6;00 Fluency Workshop 1
7:00 Fluency Workshop 1

Next up was another great group of students, 4:00 pre-intermediate. They would do anything if they did not have to work out of the boring workbook. Missing are 3 students who contributed to a very fun crew who tortured each other if they made mistakes. During any games they were insanely competitive and the gloves came off for anything the resulted in the prize being a bag of skittles.

The 6:00 Fluency class was a bit of a challenge. Half of the class was motivate while the other half needed dynamite under their collective asses to get them going. I have never seen so many 15 year old kids so tired in my life. That being said the Mexican parents tend to have their kids going 24/7. Extended regular school, athletics, English classes, music or whatever else to keep them active. I learned it is a combination of keeping them out of trouble and trying to give them as much of an advantage a possible. When I learned that tidbit I took a different approach and we moved along pretty well. Although they were tough to keep "entertained" while they learned.

7:00 Fluency was the anti 6:00 Fluency. Ready to learn but so quick to torture each other about everything. It did not help that I would egg them on. We are missing the only girl in the class who kept the boys on an even keel when they got a bit rowdy. She tolerated nothing from them and held her own.

Finally the 8:00 beginner class. A nice way to end a long day as the class was quite a bit slower as you can expect. The three girls were keen and eager to learn and help each other. Not much in the way of "banter" because of their lack of English but this class was helpful in my Spanish as we used both language to help them understand when they did not. Not the best policy, well it is actually against school policy but whatever, it worked.

We had a nice going away party with the 6;00 and 7:00 classes combined for a Taco feast and a few games. I kept telling the students that "I did not like Tacos"  just to get a rise out of them. Some students were in such a state of suspended animation and shock at that comment that they committed so making sure I had "the best Tacos in Mexico" and they did not disappoint.

During the latter part of the semester I was asked to come back for the Fall term until December 14th. It fit into my personal schedule and this school gives me the freedom to experiment  and even deviate with lesson planning as long as they learn material. Aside from the copious amount of information on various ESL teaching sites and Pinterest (believe it or not) I found Breaking News English and News Flash English to be invaluable and a break from the ordinary.

There are faces missing in the pictures both students and teachers including everyone at Discovery. Not to worry as the fall semester starts on August 22nds. I will have 6 classes, some returning students but many new faces. Challenging, shit yeah, but that is the way it should be. After all I am rocking the $450 a month salary. Thankfully tacos are $1.25 each

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