I’m going to skip ahead to the last day in the school because I’m incredibly behind on posts, and my teacher will be grumpy with me if I don’t do it right this second!
It was a bit of a bummer to be winding up the last day. I think the day went quite well though, it was slightly less structure than normal though. For the first half we did written maths questions, such as “If Tey has 17 cows and Soulang has 16 cows, who has more cows?” These kind of questions are actually quite difficult for about half the class, because of their low levels of comprehension they would see the two numbers and just add them together. So we had done quite a lot of questions which included having to state things like “more” “less” and “altogether”. I had noticed that some of the students who weren’t getting it right when we first started doing the questions, were getting them right by my last day, but then again some students who got it wrong from the start still didn’t get the hang of it. It’s a shame because I will never truly know what these kids learnt from me. Did I help any of them? Has their English knowledge improved during my one month there? I did notice quite a few learnt that they can’t say “teacher finish” and that I will only respond when they say “Teacher, I am finished”, but will they keep this up now I’m gone? The students had a classbook and a workbook to work through, which I was meant to be planning my lessons from, but this book was aimed at American (or Western) students and half the things in there were not applicable to my students. I probably deviated away from what they were supposed to be doing a bit too much. I really wanted to focus on things that were relevant to them, and to get the students more into sentences and conversations. All the students seemed to know words, and none of them could put the words in context. We worked a lot on how to have a conversation with someone else, so we would write responses on the board and then I’d get them to come out in pairs to read it aloud. We would do things like possible conversations between a waiter and someone ordering at a restaurant, between a doctor and a patient; we wrote letters; we did a lot of maths involving money; and we discussed things that were relevant to them, like their favourite colours, food, and dream jobs. I still have this nagging feeling of “did my kids learn anything?” I hope so.
This post will be a bit void of pictures as I’m not extremely comfortable putting pictures of children on the internet.
Back to the start of the post though, the last day, we worked through some maths questions and then it was basically a bit of free choice for the last half of the lesson. We read stories, I read some to the class while others chose to read to themselves. Then we had some colouring in time, but we’d come to the end of my book so not everyone got to colour in, though some just drew in the notebooks. Then we played some hangman, and just before the bell went I wrote on some postcards from Tasmania to each of the students.
The second class pretty much went the same as this, that class played a few more games on the whiteboard. Such as Splat, which was a favourite one of the kids. We’d write a whole bunch of words the kids should know on the board, and then I’d put in some they didn’t know, they’d line up in pairs and race each other to find the word when I said it. We also had a few stories which the kids absolutely love. Then I got them to sing a few songs, we sung Jingle Bells and If You’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands. I have the cutest ever video of them singing, there were mixed levels of enthusiasm but there were a few who really got into it! Again, I won’t be posting it here, but if you know me personally I may show it to you sometime!I’d mostly run out postcards by that point, so I had enough for each girl to get a postcard, and each boy to get a pencil. I had no idea coming into the school how many kids I was going to teach, I ended up having pretty big classes of about 18 in the morning and 16 in the evening.
The kids also drew me lots of pictures, and I received lots of hugs. It was great 🙂 I’m going to miss them because they were such good kids, and really one month was not enough (I was pretty over the city, but I wish I had more time at the school). Basically we had just gotten to know each other well, settle into our routines, they had just gotten used to my teacher, and then I became just another person to disappear from their lives. It must be so hard for them to have such instability when it comes to teachers. Some teachers stay only a week, other teachers were there for only a day or two! It’s so inconsistent I feel sorry for the students.
All in all, I think my time in Cambodia has been a very positive experience, and I feel fortunate that I was able to have the opportunity to go into this classroom and get to know the students. It has also helped with some ideas I have about behaviour management, although I don’t know if the strategies I used with this class would translate over to Western children. I’m going to miss my kids so much. Just a reminder, if you would like to help donate head on over to http://www.shac-smilinghearts.org