I now have a class under my belt that went absolutely terrible.
I teach a total of 16 classes: 4 different classes of M2's (7th grade), 4 M3's (8th grade), 6 M4's (9th grade), and one group of gifted M1's (6th grade) that I meet with twice a week. All of my classes have 24 students, which is a perfect amount and totally manageable, except my M1 Gifted class which has 36. Adding 12 preteens to the mixture ensues some rowdiness, but they are the "gifted" students who show proficiency in English. One of the students is able to have fluent conversations with me and I have to ask him to not answer all of my questions to make sure the rest of class gets a chance.
So class yesterday...
Since I meet with the Gifted M1's twice a week, I have to think of an additional lesson plan for the second class. We worked on interview questions last time where I had them ask their friends a series of questions; find someone who has been to Pattaya, find someone who likes pad thai, find someone who has touched snow. I asked them to write the question down (Have you been to Pattaya?) and find someone who has and write the answer (Yes, Amy has been to Pattaya). Seems simple for a group of students very skilled in English.
Uhhhh, I'm out of paper
I met with these students at the last period of the day, and was informed that about 10 new students were added to bump up the total number to 36. I checked my folder before class and I only had 10 additional worksheets to pass out for this "Interview Your Friends" lesson. In the office, we have no new paper (just scraps and already used) and I don't print out any extras, hopeful that the 26 sheets I passed out will all be in their possession, leaving a perfect 10 for the new students. I get to class and there are only a handful of kids sitting down, and naturally none of them have the worksheet. So once the class fills up, there are probably about 10 of them who don't have the worksheet, and I try to explain that I want those who don't have one to write down the questions on a piece of blank paper. Well some don't have any paper AT ALL and they say "Teacha! Need paper! No fair!" because they didn't get a printed worksheet like everyone else. I tried to blame the ridiculous thunderstorm that happened an hour previous to why I didn't have enough to hand out, but they really didn't understand. I put a power point up of the questions and told the kids to stand up and start asking each other questions and writing down the answers. Okay kids stand up! ::nothing:: STAND UP! ::adding hand gestures to stand up:: STUDENTS STAND UP PLEASE ::blank stares:: Thank god Poo (the very skilled English speaker) translated for me, THEN everybody stood up, still with puzzled faces.
From then on it was chaos. 36 students were running around, hitting each other, sitting in the back eating fruit not doing any of the work, or were just completely confused on what to do.
My voice was completely lost over the sound of a million preteens buzzing around each other. It was pure chaos for about 40 minutes before I decided to pull the plug. I wanted to collect what they had to assess how skilled they were at this assignment, so I asked the class to turn in what they had even if it isn't done. They don't understand this and don't want to turn in a half completed worksheet and look so upset when I take it from them. I try and tell them it's okay and I'm not grading it but they still are sad and distraught. I had ten minutes left but didn't even bother trying to fill it. OK CLASS, I screamed. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK. They all yelled bye and ran out of class. I walked back to the office and all I could do was smile and laugh to myself. It was a complete shit show, but I got my first disaster out of the way, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined. Plus the kids didn't even realize how terrible it was, they just tried to follow along or didn't even care.
Yet another lesson here of going with the flow.
It doesn't matter if your class was a total flop and nothing went the way you planned, and kids just messed around for half an hour because it just is what it is. Everything is okay, and I'm learning that loss of control isn't the worst thing in the world. The day ended just like any other and I had an entertaining experience to laugh at.