Monday, July 6, 2009

Back home, you cannot even walk on the same side of the street as your teacher...

... if he is coming in your direction. You have to cross the street to go around him. You must have the highest respect for the one who is giving you an education.
-B, in response to my contemplations of teaching high school

Tomorrow will be Class #5, of Week 3 in our Literacy class. I'll be finishing up with long vowel sounds and basic phonics. I could spend longer on phonics, as they spent several months or years on it when I was a kid. My students may feel like I have breezed over things, nerve-racked by all the words I give them as examples of say, long "a" or "ou," thinking that they have to memorize them. But the run-through was intentional, because we don't have all the time that kids have to learn. Henceforth I will be putting a lot of faith in word recognition through reading, and practice through writing.

Provided that their faith in me is still strong, the majority of students are ready to go forward. Only two of them are behind enough to warrant a more drawn out review of phonics. And even then I am tempted to rush them, because we only have 8 weeks of class left, and I feel like I have to get them at least somewhat functionally literate. I could try word recognition alone, like I did with Gui, which works for a little while with more impatient students, but not for very long without having to go back to phonics. This is why I got it out of the way to start, so that now the only way to go now is "Read." Read every day. Consume words like a fish drinks water. It's how I did it, which is pretty much the only thing I go by. Our training was as good as it could be for teachers that are not getting paid to do it, which is to say, many things are pretty open-ended, but I am all right with that because it gives me freer rein of my class.

I may be getting ahead of myself, but I am pretty convinced that teaching someone to read has more to do with patience, creativity, and some reflexive intelligence than with being trained in certain methods. I don't think it gets much more complicated than phonics and word-recognition approaches, and having the tact to know how and when to use them. What I'm getting at is that I want a TESOL job without sinking another $10,000 for an MA.

Or maybe I will just move to West Africa....