A Teacher Has to Entertain Herself

Well, it’s finals week at my university. It’s hard on the students, but it’s also tough on the teachers. We’re all busy; we’re all stressed. Therefore, I have to think of ways to entertain myself and keep myself sane this week.

In my college composition course, our final exam ended up adding up to 99 points. Normally, I would just give my students the 1 point. However, this time, I made them earn it. They were instructed to draw a picture of me to earn that last point.

It was hilarious to watch them when they read that last question. The tense shoulders loosened. The giggles began. And then, as they seriously began their artistic work, they all started staring at me in order to really capture my likeness.

The results made my day.

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I suppose she thinks more of me than her poor drawing skills will allow her to express.

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This is the Asian me.

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That is some curly hair, and those are some big ol’ eyes!

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In the running for my favorite. I am a queen! *flips hair dramatically*

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I think I look like another race in this one. Like my ever-present podium?

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Good ol’ “no nose Ashley”

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Apart from the football player shoulders, this it’s pretty good! (I’m going to have a complex now…)

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I had a LOT of stick figures like this one.

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No arms and no nose, but I love this one.

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This one is probably my favorite. One question though- do I have a tail??

Oh man. I love my college freshmen. Now I think I can survive the rest of finals week.
Be sure and tell me which one is your favorite!

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I’m Sorry I Wasn’t in Class but…

Today I received the most epic e-mail since the interwebs have been created. I mean good. I mean I have reached the zenith, the culmination of my teaching career with this e-mail.

I teach at a small university. I ask my students to e-mail me when they miss, so I know that they didn’t just blow off my class and also so they can see what assignments they missed. Today, I received an e-mail from a quiet student, who I’m not sure I’ve heard say ten words since the semester started in late August. He wrote this very formal, professional e-mail. As an English teacher, I appreciate a student taking the time to do that. He apologized for missing class and went on to tell me why he missed the class:

“The reason I missed class was because I had diarrhea.”

Wait! He just told me he missed class because he had diarrhea?!

Did this just happen? Did I really just laugh so loudly alone in my office? Can I look him in the face on Wednesday without crying with laughter?

He went on…

“I’m sorry I couldn’t word that to make it less awkward.”

Uh, yes you could have. You could have said:

-I’m having stomach problems.

– I’m experiencing digestion issues.

-My intestines are hurting.

– I have a tummy ache.

Can we work on synonyms in our next class? At least he spelled it right, I suppose.

Well, I’m not going to work tomorrow, because I have diarrhea. Or just because I can’t deal with freshmen.

Helping ELLs in the Mainstream College Classroom

Let’s face it. Most college professors have no  training in working with English language learners. So in order to help my colleagues better support the ELLs in their classroom, I sent an e-mail to all the faculty and adjuncts with the just a few ways in which they can help these students.

Give extra time to take a quiz or a test.

>For these students, it takes much longer for them to read and comprehend what the questions are asking. If you feel comfortable, please give them extra time.

Do not write in cursive.

> I have had several international students come in and ask me to read the feedback from their teachers at the end of their papers. Most people who learn English only learn print letters, not cursive, so cursive is usually unreadable to them.

Use visual aids, gestures, and write on the board as often as possible.

>Writing key words and even homework assignments on the board is so helpful for these students. Showing instead of only telling can really assist these students as well.

Simplify your language and slow your speed.

>This does not mean you have to “dumb down” your language. Try to use less slang and idioms, which hinder comprehension for these students. Try to watch the speed of your speech. I know I am guilty of speed talking sometimes when I get going in a lecture!

Offer supplementary materials.

>This might be offering an outline of the lecture of a copy of the PowerPoint. Listening comprehension is often most difficult for these students, so they may have trouble catching all the details of your lectures. Introduce them to a top student in the class who would be willing to share their class notes.

Get to know your international students.

>Take a minute to talk one-on-one with these students, so you can gauge their English ability and their comprehension of class material. You may think they are understanding and keeping up, but most of the time, to be polite, they will just nod and pretend to understand. Did you know that in some cultures, especially Asian cultures, it’s rude to tell the teacher you don’t understand, because you are basically accusing the teacher of not teaching well?

These were just a few quick and dirty tips I wanted the faculty to know. I hope you can make use of a few of them too if you have ELLs in your mainstream classroom. Are there any you would add? Please share with others that might find this helpful.

 

Foreign Students, ESL

College is a Wonderful Place Full of Candy Around Every Corner (or Advice to College Freshmen)

I teach a first year experience course, and at the end of the course, the students write a paper giving advice to next year’s freshmen. As college freshmen begin to move on campus and start the next phase of their lives, I’d like to share some of this (hilarious) advice.

– “Do not fall in love with the first guy or girl that you meet. That was harder than I thought!”

– “In high school, freshmen get picked on all the time and are thought of as the scum of the earth. However, in college, I have found that the only difference between a senior and a freshman guy is facial hair.”

– “…through a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, actual tears, racism, stares, breaking down, doubt, a car crash, and one concussion later, I have learned to persevere.”

– “You can get a job at the school, like making sure people don’t steal stuff from the library.”

– “The good drink machines are on the second floor. It has all the good drinks and always works.”

– “I still remember the look on my face when my parents left, and I was lost. Now I look back with a smile on my face, because now I have no fears.”

– “…sometimes it was interesting, and I liked it, but other times it was boring and I fell asleep.”

-“Most kids are used to being spoon-fed their whole life, and they really do not know how hard it is to be on their own.”

-“You never think you would miss beating up on your little brother every day until you can’t anymore.”

-“When you’re sitting in bed debating on whether or not to go to class, get up and just go,”

-” I thought if I could go here and become a better wrestler, get big muscles, and possibly a girlfriend in the process, then why not?”

-“It’s nice to have a little brotherly brotherhood.”

-“After extensive private lessons in American Sign Language, I now know how to sign bacon.”

-“Being away from home is hard. Especially 2,355 miles away.”

-“College is a wonderful place full of wonderment, surprises, and candy around every corner. Ok, I lied about that last part.”

You just can’t make this stuff up!

College Culture Night

After many hours of prep work, I pulled off my university’s culture night. And oh boy, it was more work than I ever imagined! I asked the participants, I helped them think of an idea for a performance, I wrote bios for each performer, I wrote the script for the emcee, I arranged the facility, and I advertised. Shew! I’m tired all over again from just typing that!

I desperately wanted to give our international students a chance to showcase their culture and their talents, and I wanted to give our American students a chance to learn about their classmates. We had students from Japan, Guatemala, the Philipines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and America  perform. They all did an excellent job, and I do believe that all involved had a great time. I hope to make this event a yearly thing!

Japanese culture

Masa and Shin doing kendo fighting

Filipino student

Mara singing in Tagalog, a dialect of the Philipines

Japanese student

Hikari bowing in her kimono after her piano performance

Japanese kimono

Masa writing Japanese calligraphy

Puerto Rican student

Orgen rapping in Spanish

traditional Chinese dress

Minmin introducing a video about dating in Taiwan

Puerto Rican musician

Orgen, from Puerto Rico, playing the bongos

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Culture Night Participants (I’m 2nd from the left in the front row)

Thanks to our school photographer, Derek, for the great photos.

Boys Will Be Boys

I am currently teaching at a university in the US. Apart from my ESL classes, I also teach some freshmen in composition courses and first-year experience courses. The college freshman is a rare species-especially the guys. Freshmen feel like they have something to prove. They were recently the oldest in school, the ones in charge, and now they’re right back down to the bottom of the food chain. And boys will be boys no matter how old they are and no matter what country they’re in. They still want to prove they’re tough, especially to females- even their female teacher.

I took some wasabi peas to class today that are so hot I’m pretty sure they’re soaked in acid and not wasabi. Wiping tears from their eyes, 5 college guys swore they weren’t hot.

Boys will be boys.