So I started my tenure in Osato with great rapport; everyone–especially the students–were happy I was the new teacher. I even made it in with the cool, popular students and all was well…until I had to teach class all by myself.
As an ALT I am not responsible for creating lesson plans or running class. I am expected to assist with lesson plans, to assist with teaching, and to be an overall aid to the busy JTEs. On this particular day, however, the JTE I don’t work with very often came up to me during second period to tell me that he had a doctor’s appointment and that I was to teach his third and sixth period.
Until that moment, I had no idea that I was going to be in charge of a class–let alone be expected to have lessons for two grade levels, 7th and 9th. Though I was a shocked, I did what I always do here and took it as an adventure. I decided to make the most out of it and I immediately began flipping through material trying to organize a fun and educational lesson.
The 7th grade class was first and the particular class is always full of energy. Lesson plans or not I knew I the period was going to be great. I had made up a game where you had to interview your classmates and get their signatures. Simple enough right? Well explaining the game was more of a challenge than planning it. Had I more time to prepare I likely would have come up with step-by-step easy instructions. Instead I was just winging it. Fortunately, there’s was a student able to translate and convey the instructions to the class. Even though the JTE wasn’t there I still was kinda team teaching.
The sixth period eventually came and this is where things went wrong. Well, the lesson was alright. The JTE wanted me to just be a human tape recorder (which I do quite often) however I felt like doing that for 50 minutes was a little much. Instead, I took the selected reading and put each word on a small square sheet of paper. After the students got into their lunch groups, I handed out the squares and tried to explain the instructions. Fortunately, the students figured out the game themselves.
During the lesson though, I saw two students whispering and walked over towards them as a hit to be quite. Rather than taking my hint, the students pretended I wasn’t there and one passed a note to another; it was classic. Immediately I reminisced back to the days of junior high and the countless notes that I was in someway involved with. I then recalled exactly what the teacher would do: she would take the note. And that is exactly what I did.
You would think that I had just killed her puppy. The student got really sad and desperately wanted it back. Upon inspection, I noticed that note was your standard “check yes or no” love letter. Rather than return it I held on to it with the intention of (maybe) returning it after class; the student was not pleased to say the least.
A teacher came to the door way to see how I was faring in my second solo class ever. This is where I went wrong. I walked up to him and jokingly explained how a student was passing a note. I gave it to him and he began to read it. The student’s face began to grow red.
After class the two students who were passing the note came up to me and the passer was explaining the situation while the receiver was almost in tears. The former is a good English student and was able to make a case for giving back the note. Needless to say I did and all was resolved….or so I thought.
Ever since that note ordeal, the student has never been the same. She is one of the popular girls and was the most outgoing towards me. Perhaps she’s the leader of the clique because after I took her note she and the other popular girls aren’t as responsive. My guess (or hope) is that they’ll let it pass after a week or so. We’ll see.