Noilly Prattle: Call Me Mr. B. – Three

Monday, April 15, 2013

Call Me Mr. B. – Three

design using color markers, cut and paste

     Since I couldn't do a lot of explaining in Japanese, and the class was supposed to be an Art/English class, I hit on the idea of relying a lot on visual examples [such as the fantasy design on the left] and simple English and Japanese (where the latter was necessary and possible) to present lessons. Since the visuals had to be done in conjunction with developing a lesson I did a lot more actual ”art” work than I had ever done before. The visuals both stimulated the students and helped them to understand, along with directions and demonstration, what I wanted them to try and express. Naturally, feedback was the most essential ingredient in determining what worked and what didn't and what changes and modifications or downright dropping of an ill-advised lesson were necessary.

       The main consideration, at first, was finding and developing enough material and lessons for grade levels Two through Six. You have to take into consideration the ages, interests and dexterity of the kids. I had developed some projects and lesson ideas with the special needs students in my class in Kingston and I had gathered some ideas and materials that I took with me when I left. These formed the core of my curriculum planning but had to be expanded and diversified to fill the necessity of providing two-hour classes each week for the five grades. Since the school was brand new there was only one class per grade for grades two to six. As the years went by new classes were added to each grade level until the school reached three classes per grade level, significantly overextending my ability to keep up with the classroom and preparation hours per week.

       Naturally, there were many problems and obstacles in the process of organizing a program: finding ideas (the Internet proved to be a great resource), developing material, making a schedule and materials list for the homeroom teachers [sample on right], preparing demonstration models, deciding how much English I could actually use and expect to be understood, working out a self-contained disciplinary regimen, disposition of classroom furniture, keeping grades, etc. In actual practice these things were worked out over time and largely by trial and error since there wasn't any precedent for a class completely under the control of a foreign teacher.

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