I work at a school that has students from pre-k up to 6th grade. I teach a kindergarten class of 33 students. Here they separate kindergarten into K1 and K2 so there are two years of it. I am teaching in the K1 year so they are fresh out of preschool and around 4 or 5 years old. I don’t have much previous experience with kids except for a program I volunteered at as a sophomore in college at my park district. There I was an assistant for an after school program for kindergarteners.
The first big difference here is the language barrier. There is a Thai teacher and a Thai assistant in the classroom with me. The Thai teacher I currently have speaks incredibly good English and helps me understand what the kids are saying sometimes (it’s usually them telling me about toys they have at home which I think is pretty adorable). She also gives them Thai lessons and has helped me get my footing in the classroom and taught me a lot about the routine the kids are used to. The Thai assistant mostly works on discipline with the kids and she is very good at that and keeping them focused.
For the last two weeks, I have been working as a part of their summer camp program. There is one half of a week left and then there will be a week and a half off until the actual semester begins. During that time, I will be going on another mini vacation so get ready for a lot of photos and eventually a blog post about it! (That post probably won’t be timely seeing as the semester begins almost immediately once I return). During this camp, I haven’t had to plan very many activities but have been more of an assistant helping out with planned activities, observing and getting to know my students.
When the semester starts, I will be planning all my own worksheets, activities, etc. but there is a set list of topics for each week. The first two weeks just say orientation so those topics are somewhat up to me but the rest of the semester the weekly topics are more specific like shapes and colors, body parts, the five senses, food, etc. Additionally, there is one letter we are supposed to work on each week beginning with A. I am at school from 8am-4pm and when I am not teaching, like during their lunch and naptime, I have office hours to work on classroom plans for the week.
The kids all have “English” nicknames some of which are funny since they’re random English words instead of names (i.e. Nail, Dream, Brownie, Focus) or a lot of the time not even words in English (i.e. Pood Pard, Cha-aim, Taff). It’s been a nice introduction to the school during this camp. I have learned that we really need to supply our own paper or risk being unprepared for class when the office runs out. I have met around 10 other English teachers at the same school that are from the U.S. and England. It’s also already really easy to see which kids behave during class and which cause a lot of problems in the classroom. I’ve also noticed there are a few kids in my class who need extra help with writing and aren’t used to holding a pencil properly yet, however, most of them can and can write fairly quickly.
I’m happy to say I’ve finally learned all of their names and they’ve learned mine as well. I’ve also gotten to practice some explanations so I can improve how I phrase things reminding myself I’m not only speaking to kindergarteners but also in a language they’re not accustomed to. I’ve seen what sorts of activities and videos work with them and what happens when you don’t hold their attention. I’m preparing for a lot of repetition, songs and educational games.
Did I mention how CUTE my class is???????