rookie mistakes

I have never been more tired. This is probably not true. What is true is that … I’m not quite comfortable with a sentence with so many finite verbs. It’s distracting. Let me start again.

Today was day 8 of a 20 day camp. My teachers are working 6 days a week from 9am to 8:30pm. I’m working 7.

The schedule is tough: not just the times, which are manageable if you have a day off, but the activities. We’ve been trying to improve it. Originally there was textbook work for three hours every day. We quickly discovered that not only did the kids not have the stamina for it, they weren’t retaining anything we could get them to study. So we took out an hour of the book three days a week and added sports/games. No, it’s not communicative. Most of the time it doesn’t involve any language at all. But it’s amazing what a little exercise will do for energy levels. Still, the schedule has activities that no one knows how to do and no one has much time to plan for. This is my fault. I wrote the schedule and failed to write down what was in my mind at the time. Now I’m too tired to remember. Rookie mistake.



We did a shopping role play. The students prepared all week – learning target language and making products for their shops – and were really excited about the idea of other students buying the stuff they made. Then we sent them all shopping and it was a disaster. Because of us. Instead of letting the kids run the shops, the teachers did it. Which means that much less language was actually produced and much more stress was involved. The kids had fun in any case and named it as a highlight in their journals that night (daily journals = great for feedback from kids). I mentioned it as a lowlight in mine. I was disappointed in myself. At our teachers’ meeting we reflected. What happened? Why did I feel it went wrong? We discussed ways to improve it for the future. That’s what I love about my team: they’re not complaining or blaming, but willing to reflect and to help fix problems. We won’t do another shopping role play this camp, but the strategy easily adapts for other activities with these kids – give them the opportunity to produce!



But when the time came – two days later during a cinema role play – we did it ourselves again. Why did that happen? I think it was a combination of stress (because money was involved, which we weren’t sure if we could let the kids handle) and lack of proper planning. I learned that in order to put an action plan into action, we need to discuss and plan it together and visualize how it will work, assign roles, and write things down specifically. We didn’t do that. I’d like to say we didn’t really have time, but we also didn’t make time. It should have been a priority. I have another chance on Friday. It’s lower-risk. I will make it a priority to plan, prepare, and provide opportunities for students to participate fully.



I enter this week in hope.


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