Break through

Today overall wasn’t too great. I went to sleep last night at six pm with a stuffed nose and sore throat and I awoke at midnight to a slightly flooded ger. This morning I hurriedly scratched out two lesson plans, and as could only be expected, didn’t have great classes. But during my afternoon elective lesson, I had a break through.

Boloroo (my English teacher) and I had discussed separating the large class of tenth, eleventh and twekve graders into two shorter lessons, divided by level. Slower students would come for the first hour, and faster students the second. Now I have been talking Boloroo’s ear off for a whole year. I often prattle on about topics such as the benefits of the immersion method, how to increase participation, and why slower students cannot be called stupid. To Americans, this last point is obvious. When as student is told they are inept, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. In fact all of these points are ridiculously obvious…  to the American. But Mongolian teachers can often be found teaching solely in Mongolian with a fully teacher centered approach while nonchalantly stating that some students can’t learn English because “they stupid”.

Being too clogged up to care about being a good teacher, I had Boloroo explain to our students in Mongolian how we were letting the students choose which level class they would like to attend. I listened to her Mongolian, making sure we were on the same page. The first sentences out of her mouth explained how students were neither good nor bad at English; some students just had a different learning pace than others, which was why we were breaking up the class. As she finished her explanation, a huge grin registered on my face. This teacher, who only a year ago told me certain students couldn’t learn because boys were stupid, just lectured students on differentiated learning paces.

She stopped speaking, and the students began their activity once again. Then I gave her a massive hug. She looked at me, with the quizzical look of “what in the world is the American doing now?”.  I explained of how proud I was of her. Her expression didn’t change. She may not realize how far she’s come, but for me, it shows that my work is paying off. I am changing things, at least for one teacher. My teacher.

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