WARNING: Koala rant loading…

(this is mostly for my future self, for when I am reflecting on my teaching experience here)

After eating a delicious ‘Streusel’ bun laden with artificial butter cream, a packet of fruit mentos, and a large cheese milk foam pearl milk tea*, I feel like I will either explode or receive a nasty letter from my body telling me that I really need to stop eating crap all the time.

Today was a yucky day and I needed to indulge in all of that in order to feel ‘in control’ and to feel like there was some sort of reason why I am going to work each day.

I opened up my staff page today to see what lessons I had to teach and was rudely welcomed by my ‘teacher score’ which had sunk to 2 out of 10! I have no idea what the score is based on – I think the students are able to rate my class out of five stars at the end of each lesson, and that it is from this that the score is calculated. However, all my students seem very satisfied at the end of most of my classes. I feel I am observant enough to be able to gauge this. Furthermore, only two days earlier, I received my overall monthly score which was around 95/100. I’m so confused…

I’m not saying that I am the best teacher in the world, but I try to be, and as I have mentioned previously, I take a lot of pride in what I do. My aim is to teach the students as best as I can. The resources I am expected to use have not been helping, but since realising that there was no other option other than to adapt these strange lesson plans, I have felt that my classes have been much stronger.

After seeing my score, I spoke to one of my colleagues and she said I was perhaps not ‘hot correcting’ the students enough during the lessons. I had received a comment last month from one student who felt this, so I have spent the last few weeks using all kinds of error correction techniques including hot correction.

I have also received feedback that I come across as incredibly nervous and quiet during my lessons. Apparently my voice is so ‘low,’ whatever that means. I am a quiet, gentle person by nature, and I don’t have a booming, controlling voice like many of the American teachers I have come across, however when I am in the classroom I transform into a loud, confident extrovert. In fact, I very rarely feel nervous or shy in my classes. I have never understood this — how I can be so confident and outgoing in front of a class, when, in normal social situations, I am a tiny little mouse. Oh, and by the way, I am actually very able to project my ‘low’ voice after having had a good ten years of experience acting on the stage.

I have never had this kind of feedback before in any of my other jobs as an ESL teacher. I love feedback, but I am a little perplexed as to what I am doing wrong. I can only imagine that the problem lies in that I have a different ‘way’ to other teachers in China – local or otherwise. Perhaps it’s my accent? Perhaps it’s because I am quite a patient teacher, and other teachers show less patience and are more direct. I am tempted to write to my CELTA tutors and ask them what their thoughts are on this. After all, they analysed every teeny tiny little movement I made during my practical.

So, after stuffing my face with all that junk food, I have been surfing the net for effective error correction techniques, to see if there is some technique that I have been neglecting to use in my classes. I was quite happy to see that I actually use most of the techniques that I found. Despite having spent my day asking myself if being an ESL teacher is really a career that I want to stay with, while I was reading about ESL teaching techniques, I felt a strange buzz of excitement. I do enjoy it.

I will keep trying. My colleague shrugged it off, saying it was “because I am new and have a lot to learn”. A little patronising maybe… I know that I do have a lot to learn in the ESL industry — as there is a lot to learn in any occupation. But with the years of experience and training behind me, I know that the skills I already possess are very effective in the ESL classroom. Well, I thought that before, and now I am doubting it and am slightly worried that if I continue to doubt my abilities, I will become too insecure to continue in my role. Oh life…

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