First Day of School

  First day of school for me as a teacher!  The Waan Aolep en Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands) program that D and visited in Majuro has started a group on Ebeye and I was asked to teach a class once a week in English, reading and writing.  Monday evening was my first class.  I'd asked the director what the guys English level was and the answer I got was, "Some Elementary school."
   I had no idea where to start.  After some brainstorming, I came up with three ways to test what they knew and how they learned.  I started the class by giving a small speech about myself in English and then asking them to raise their hands based on how much they understood what I said.  Most of them didn't raise their hands at all (Okay, not great at spoken English).  Next I put the English alphabet up on the board and we reviewed it out loud.  Most of the knew their letters and when I handed out cards with letters on them, each one was able to come up with a word for their letter (even X, Q, and Z).  To see how well they could write, I asked them all to write down their names and to copy down the alphabet- most of them were able to finish fairly quickly and they all had very good handwriting.  So far, so good.

I decided to teach a quick lesson on vowels and consonants and to review vowel sounds and that went well- which told me they know how to behave in a classroom and are willing to listen and learn.  I still had some time left after that so I pulled out my last exercise.  I'd written a bunch of sentences, one for each student, that each had easy, medium, and hard words in them.  Each student got one and I asked them to read their sentence out loud.  Aside from the two students who can't read English, they all read them perfectly.  Only two words were mis-read (antique and cushion).  I told them that they'd been pulling my leg and that I was very impressed with how well they can read.  Really, it knocked my socks off!
  Tonight I'm picking up first and second grade textbooks from the school so that I can get some lesson ideas.  I think I'm going to focus on understanding spoken English and English grammar and sentence structure.  I'd like to try to work in fun things like word finds, cross-word puzzles and Mad-Libs as teaching tools as well.  I'm also thinking of trying to work in reading and discussing the Harry Potter books (male main character, easy to associate with, many may have seen the movie).  We'll see how things go.
  I think the most amazing thing of it was that I wasn't nervous.  I've never really taught before, especially  not English, but my hands didn't shake, my voice didn't shake, and I was able to roll with all the punches.  I've been looking to get involved in something to help out the folks on Ebeye for some time but nothing really seemed to be the right fit, except for this program.  I really hope this works out and I'm looking forward to my next week of teaching.
  If you're interested in learning more about WAM, here's their website:



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