Thursday, December 13, 2012

Open Class: 3SAP

About twice a year for each of my "SAP" classes (the more intense classes) I have to have an Open Class. Each time it is held, it is a little different. But, in December I have 2SAP and 3SAP Open Classes. I also technically teach a 4SAP but they are also called Leap High and I don't have to do the same things with them. Weird. Anyway...

Today was Open Class for my 3SAP students (aka: The Favorites). On Tuesday, we had a practice. The students, who wrote presentations 2 weeks ago and have been memorizing, stood up in front of their classmates to practice their speeches. I made a PowerPoint to go with each student's presentation, as well. On Tuesday, everything went fairly smooth except all the students didn't have their presentations memorized. So, I reminded them to work on it by Thursday.

After class Tuesday, EJ (my partner Korean teacher for that class) gave me the run down on what I was expected to do during Open Class. My excellent (cough, cough) supervisor had told me about 40 different times about what the students should do, but never bothered to inform me what was expected of me during this time. So, EJ let me know that I should do a review of the previous lesson, then have students give their presentations, then do some more review or other class material.

She also let me know that the parents (who are in the class, watching) would mostly be looking at their students to see how they are doing. The parents want to see: does the child participate, does he/she speak in complete sentences, how do they compare to the others, etc. With this new insight, I decided to make a PowerPoint to do before presentations to guide our "review" of the lesson on Tuesday.

I knew that I would get nervous in front of all the parents, so I put together a fairly intricate PowerPoint complete with animations and photos. I even scanned some pages from the book to illustrate the questions and points. Go me!

Well, today was the big day! I headed into class, and the students were all a-buzz with nerves and excitement (mostly nerves though). I quickly briefed them before their parents came in: please answer in complete sentences, raise your hand if you know an answer, speak clearly, etc. Then, Jackie led the mothers in. I was sort of thankful there were no dads, but then again, women are pretty judgmental too. (Not that I specifically got dressed this morning with this class in mind, being sure to choose a sliming outfit and taking extra time on my makeup... no, of course not.)

The mothers all sat down at the back of the class, and I briefly welcomed them, introduced myself and we began...

First, the PowerPoint review. All started out well, Ryan answering the first few questions (of course, he is by far the smartest), but some of the others getting some answers too. Then, my PowerPoint froze. The room got hotter as I sat there clicking next, enter, spacebar, anything to get it to move forward. It didn't. After about 30 awkward seconds, EJ (who was watching the class), got up to help me. I was soooo embarrassed! Of course, it wasn't my fault, but it was dead silent and EJ whispered for me to keep going while she worked on the computer. So, my preparations were pretty much for not.

I stepped aside for her to work, and did my best at coming up with spontaneous questions I could remember from the PowerPoint. We had learned about Giraffes, so I just asked what they remembered and we talked about their height.

At one point, I asked a question, and was so nervous (from being put on the spot to continue the "lesson" sans-prepared PowerPoint), I pointed at Ryan's raised hand and said "Yes, Danny." The worst part was, I didn't even realize I had made such a crucial and mortifying mistake until Ryan says "I am not Danny." Oh, my, gosh. I wanted to melt into a puddle.

After apologizing profusely and reassuring Ryan that I did in fact know his name, we continued and EJ finally got the computer working. We went through the rest of the review, then on to the presentations.

We started out well with Ariel, one of my favorites, talking about Pigs. She did a great job, especially since she had missed the practice round on Tuesday. Next up was Clara to tell us about Hippos. She certainly had some struggles, but all in all she remembered most things. Judy came next with her Chimpanzee talk, and I would say she probably did the best job. She does not have the best pronunciation or intonation, but she spoke with a natural pace and referred to the PowerPoint like a pro. Danny told us about Bears with very accurate memorization and little emotion, and then Ellie came up to talk about Fish. Ellie is the sweetest thing, but she was so nervous. When she got to a part she couldn't remember, she had a very hard time recovering. She forgot to give me her paper before beginning, so I couldn't feed her a line. I had to go from the PowerPoint (which had some words as hints), and finally she recovered. Poor thing. Last was Ryan to talk about ducks. Of course, he did well.

After the presentations, I checked my clock and we still had another 15-20 minutes before the parents were to leave. I had the students open their Student Book and we read out loud. After the story, I asked some comprehension questions and we practiced comparing and contrasting the different animals (such were described in the story, and we had just heard about in presentations). They did fairly well, but a few were so nervous to speak! I knew they needed to try, to show their parents they were learning and at the same level as the rest of the class, but man! These kids got scared.

Finally, EJ stood up and led the parents out of the room. We had about 15 more minutes of class time left, and I let the kids talk to me the rest of the time. Literally as soon as the door shut, we ALL let out a collective sigh of relief. We laughed and chatted about who forgot words, how I messed up Ryan/Danny's names, etc. It was actually fun to talk to the students after the parents left. It reminded me of how much pressure they are under to perform well and bring pride to their families. I am just so darn proud of my kids, especially these guys! I promised them a little treat on Tuesday for working so hard.

When at last the bell rang, I gave them all 10 stamps in their stamp books, and sent them on their way. Many parents were still there, so I gave a nice respectful bow to them as I passed them in the hall. My instinct to extend my hand for a shake had to be repressed. After class, EJ stopped me in the hall and I told her how nervous and embarrassed I was! She said the mothers liked me and were impressed with my preparations for the class (the 2 PowerPoints). SCORE! I doubt I will hear this in my "official" evaluations, but as long as the kids were happy, I don't particularly care. They are the ones I am there to work for, not the parents.

Another week is almost done, just working that one last pesky day of the week. What I wouldn't give to have Fridays off! But, the Hobbit has been released here in Korea and I want to try to see it this weekend. My coworkers are also having a dinner date Saturday and I am going to be a good sport and go to that. I can't wait for winter "vacation!!" But first, I gotta get through my 2SAP Open Class next week... (cue the horror movie sound bites).


  1. I sorta' stressed right along with you! And your students!! Wow - the parents like you!!! Go Chelsea!!!! Really LOVE your blog. You are such a great teacher; your students are learning so well. Parents bring a lot of pressure on their kids - too bad, but with all that "encouragement", guess that's one reason they do so well. (I would be very nervous if MY parent(s) were in my class) Thanks for a good read. Love it.


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