The worst thing you can hear when you’re about to take over a class for four weeks is “which class are you teaching?” from the person you were counting on to tell you which class you were teaching.
The worst answer you can give is “I don’t know”.
Since I’m now “off work” for a couple weeks, I agreed to pick up four weeks of Sunday classes with a program I’ve mentioned before. The trouble is I was given no information to help me prepare for the class. I didn’t know what class I’d be teaching, what level or what textbook I’d be using.
Eventually, after the other three teachers arrived, and through the process of elimination, we figured out what class I was teaching in time for me to prepare for it. That’s when my worries really started.
My predecessor had finished only four units out of book that has ten. A colleague teaching a different class in the same level was on unit seven. With four weeks left his status actually made a lot of sense. For me it means that I have to rush to finish as much of the textbook as I can.
This is the moment when the doubt hit. I doubted his notes; I doubted my ability to fill five hours of class with little prep; and I wondered how in the hell he managed to make “pages 11-18” (from his notes) last four hours. (In his defense, the listenings in this textbook seem to last several hours.)
Once I got in the class and established where the students were in the book (my predecessor’s notes were accurate) my “golden doorknob” skills (more on those in a future post) took over and I managed to create a plan that lasted five hours.
The trick, of course, is to assign work for the students: check your answers with your partner; make a short speech; make groups and write a two minute role play about death. (Something like that.)
For next week I’ll have time to plan. Because of that, I doubt the class will go very well.