Wednesday 24 July 2019

Happy Tears In The Classroom

Last week, I was reminded again of how much of a cry-baby I am when responding to my students’ achievements in the classroom. I am so sure that every good teacher has stories to share about precious moments like this.

So, there is no special needs class in the other school where I teach and learners with learning needs are mainstreamed with the other students and usually, these special students of mine just basically do their own thing and sometimes they sleep through the lesson. I've toyed with the idea of creating extra or different tasks for special students but the JTEs didn’t really buy the idea. In fact, one JTE specifically told me that she’ll “take care of the student” herself. I guess this might be because Japan is a group-oriented society and differentiating by task may make the student feel totally different and isolated, disability irrespective. One of the things I don't like about being an ALT is not having total control to make decisions about my students' welfare and learning, as I always have to get an OK from the JTE. The struggle I go through when I’m teaching in a class with students like this is real. I feel bad for them and I’ve always wondered what I could do to help them learn and I keep trying different ways in the hope that I'll be able to reach them somehow.

A miracle happened last week. One boy who usually sits and stares into space and does nothing even after I've asked the girl beside him to work with him and help him, surprised me and the JTE. 
So, in that class, the students learned how to use the target sentence “There is…/There are…” Students got into groups of five after I modelled the game and they started playing a board game to practise using the target language. As I went round monitoring, the JTE called my attention to the table of my boy whom I’ve been worried about. My heart did a flip as I saw him throw the dice and make a very correct sentence using the target language. In the JTE’s words “this is the first time I’ve seen his smile since I started working in this school” of course at this point I couldn’t hold back the tears and I had to quickly step out into the hallway to comport myself. At the end of the activity, as we took a roll call of champions, guess who won one round of the games in his group? Yup! My boy.
Like I told the JTE, there’ll definitely be more of board games in that class because we’ll be foolish not to use this newly found key as often as possible and hopefully, we’ll find out other ways to help him learn and participate in class.

In other news, school’s out! The summer holidays officially begin today. It’s been one great ride of adventures, fun, bonding with my students, learning, unlearning and relearning. I'll be doing a lot of reading and research on more ways to reach out to special needs students in regular classes. I am new to teaching SEN so please I'll appreciate ideas and links in the comment. I would like to appreciate you for coming on this ride with me so far. Thank you for every time that you took time out to read my posts. Thank you for every time you read and left me a note, I really appreciate that. 
I might also have some kind of online training for Nigerian teachers coming soon I’ll keep you guys posted, please watch this space.

Thank you so much for stopping by, see you next post!

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