Thursday, 18 November 2010

Why I'm Uncomfortable

these kids are not shy in having their photo taken!
Perhaps I should explain why I'm uncomfortable working at the school while the two English teachers take time off. It's not that I can't handle it or don't enjoy it; it's the thought that my presence might be doing more harm than good. If the teachers are off because they know I'll stand in for them then the kids' learning will surely suffer. Certainly, my spoken English is way-better than theirs but that only benefits the kids if they can actually understand what I'm saying.  These teachers can explain things to the children in their own language - a huge advantage.  They are also following a structured curriculum and teaching plan - they know what comes next and how long they should spend on each activity. And being an effective teacher is not only about following a workplan, formal or informal - it's also about knowing your students, their culture, their home situations, pressures, hopes and fears.

In certain circumstances I'd also be concerned that I was taking away a local teacher's job, though that's not the situation here.

On top of that, I'm not qualified and they are, with all the benefits that being qualified brings.

As I see it, the kids are best served if I help with spoken English in the presence of the regular teachers, and having two adults present will give more individual attention and help keep the children on task.


Update 21/11/10
Both teachers returned to work last week. They told me they'd been ill, not taking time off because I was there. They understood the potential to take advantage of volunteers and my unease. These are two professional teachers and they offered to phone me when they were next off work. I know they understand, so when they're off again I'll probably go in anyway just to fill the gap for the kids.

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