For the past two semesters, I’ve let my supervisor (the head of the English department… I think) create my schedule. It’s always a bargaining process, her trying to shove twenty seven to thirty hours a week of teaching on me, and me reducing them to twenty. Then she adds more, and I cut more. It’s a fun little dance that slightly kills me inside every time it occurs. There’s no way I can teach that many classes in addition to ten hours a week of lesson planning, plus outside community development.
This semester, I’m adding another step to our jig. I will partially choose the classes I teach. Instead of teaching each English class for forty minute periods once a week, I will change my focus to a more intensive approach- concentrating my efforts on a limited number of classes by teaching them multiple times a week. I’ve decided this adjustment has the ability to benefit the students and teachers. My hope is it will lead to a more stable environment, allowing me to keep better tabs on each lesson learned instead of jumping in sporadically once a week for a short forty minute session.
So what is the dilemma? Increasing my hours for some classes will mean dropping certain classes from my schedule completely. Yes, certain classes are better than others. But there are always those few hard working, intellectually curious students in every class that will undoubtedly take a hit by losing out on time spent with a native English speaker. What class will I inadvertently punish by removing myself from their learning experience?
My preference is to concentrate on younger students. My students in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade are easily persuaded that English can be fun. Their brains have not had enough reinforcement of incorrect grammar and improper pronunciation that it can’t be easily unlearned. And most importantly, for younger children, the Mongolian cultural ideology which states that making mistakes is bad, and incredibly embarrassing, can still be erased- at least inside the confines of my classroom.
This abandonment of many of my older students makes me cringe. It feels like I’m giving up on them, due to an “ageist” policy of focusing only on the young. For now, I believe it is for the best, but it’s a difficult decision to make. Thankfully, this is only the third semester this year, and another four semesters await next year. I will discover if my new schedule improves my school and make adjustments in the semesters to come. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.