Friday, March 04, 2011

I'll be here Monday to Friday, try the rice!

I gave the same Powerpoint introduction to my class(link here) eight times in two days to about 110 grade 5 and 6 students.


- about two or three students were able to identify the Pakistani flag, though except for the boy who said he learned from the newspaper, none could say how
- when I showed a picture of Hong Kong's stunning skyline, one 11-year-old girl mused that Hong Kong wasn't a developed country because it is a part of China
- one student asked if I was "mixed-blooded"
- about a half dozen students had been to a Tim Hortons, and about a dozen had been to Canada, although none to Toronto
- one student confirmed that Quebec was a part of Canada before saying he had been
- because Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, about half of my students thought the painting was found in Italy
- many felt that either the painting was fake or my picture of it was fake because the Louvre doesn't allow pictures (it does, from about 10 metres away)
- almost no one could identify a picture of Charlie Brown (maybe two or three), but about half of the students had heard of Snoopy
- hockey was usually identified as ice hockey, or sometimes NHL
- a staggeringly large amount (20%) had seen the Iron Man movie
- thanks to the proliferation of cold, sweet coffee drinks in convenience stores, almost half of my students said they liked coffee
- most liked Korean-style sashimi (hwae)
- football has emerged as a popular sport among some grade 6 boys thanks to a student who lived in America for a year and has a football
- maybe 10% of students profess reading books as a hobby, unless we're talking about comic books

Reactions to me ranged from "I had this guy last year, I don't really like him" to "man, he's much tougher than [previous teacher]" to "you have a very wide forehead". I was pleased at how many laughs I earned with my jokes and pictures, and also at how much I had improved my delivery and selection by the last presentation.

I also learned the importance of a first impression. Last year I resolved to start tough and gradually ease up, but while my classes were good, I felt that I never established a personal bond with my older students, which meant less input and less discussion in class.

My reputation as an authoritarian preceded me this year, when I'm teaching only grades 5 and 6. One grade 6 homeroom teacher was happy to see me because he had heard I'm very strict, and my grade 5 students from last year told their new teacher that I'm scary.

But by earning more laughs this year at the start, I learned a difficult lesson about how I'd failed last year. Setting high standards in class for students with heaps of loving sarcasm for troublemakers, the gist of my presentation, is a more productive endeavour than mercilessly brow-beating them into working hard, my theme from last year. More students lingered after class to ask questions, remind me of their name, or simply to stare.


Alex said...

This makes me smile.

Tuttle said...

Interesting post. But isn't it really "ice hockey"? There's another sport called "field hockey".

The point you make about humor vs sternness is important, and the balance is difficult to achieve, even for someone who's been in the game for many years. It is, however, crucial to get the right mix of your classroom being a pleasant, fun place to learn in, and also of not being place where students can goof off and fail to learn.

I gave a detailed description of my "freshyear" intro class on my blog a few days ago, and at last count have done essentially this same lesson 55 times in my 2 1/2 years. Ooof!

sasha said...

reading that you don't like punishment is laughable

Anonymous said...

Adeel teach seems like a firm, but fair ruler. I would support your classroom dictatorship.