Sitting in front of computer on a late Friday evening in foggy Primda, the petite town I have taken up as my temporal home in the depths of Czech Forest area, I find I am missing Christmas and the relaxed atmosphere accompanying it more than ever. Only now have the real winter come to this corner of the world, snow is here but my Christmas pudding remains in my memories only.
It is high time to move forward, or rather down as is the case. Lower grades have become to enjoy my presence in the lessons so that it is my new duty to focus my efforts on them. Sorry higher graders, you will just have to live with it. Having started with CLIL showers last year, the smallest pupils are now able to focus in English for almost whole lesson.
By now well engraved starting routines help them to tune up to the beat and soon enough they are all over the place shouting their answers in English. Although some topics may seem lacking action vocabulary, such as naming months of the year, children quickly absorb the lexis used to introduce the concepts during various activities and repeat it unwillingly, sometimes even when speaking to their Czech teacher.
With older children the teaching becomes more of a challenge as some children in 4th grade are fluent in English whereas others are just beginning to grasp the concept of communicating in a foreign language. It is neccessary for them to work as a team, away from the separate quiet island of their work desks. They perform best together, crowded in a circle around a game of pairs, or running across the classroom searching for new pieces of information in an intricate treasure hunt.
Climbing through the omnipresent fog whirling lazily on a recently renovated road, I would never imagine the smallest town that awaited me on the slope of the Primda mountain. What’s more, the school was much more surprising than the misty town itself. Distant from all major cultural centres, it offers abundant resources including interactive boards, outside playfield, inner gyms, a swimming pool and a sauna.
Even though I teach in all 9 grades of the primary, I decided to dedicate my first few lines to higher grade pupils in particular.
First weeks in Primda primary school were full of changes. After briefly introducing myself in the first lessons I had with each of the classes, I started running focus lessons based on the current time plans. Regardless of the subject I entered, higher grade pupils were faced with new challenges. Establishing basic framework of communication proved difficult as working in groups and self-management were concepts as foreign to them as I was when I first came to the class.
After a bit of struggling and arranging for special project lessons in the afternoon, progress became exponential. What we began in any lesson, we carried over to their English lessons and had a plenty of time for individual and group production in the afternoon project classes. Fact processing, jigsaw activities, drawing conclusions are some of the concepts being born in their minds at the moment.
Moreover, whenever we had finished chewing on a tough morsel of knowledge, we utilized the project classes for getting to know each other through exercise and sports. From workouts, gymnastics to water-polo, pupils enjoyed their quality time communicating in English.
I am heading back to work now knowing a well set piece of my 8th graders’ Christmas pudding is waiting for me in the fridge in our teachers’ room.
Wishing for the best to come out of my stay in the year ahead of us…