My Heston Experience: Trial and Error

What I’ve learned this week….well, it takes a lot more planning than you would think to facilitate an ESL class of more than three students. Last week, although a chaotic and exhausting five days, turned out to be a relatively low key week. I feel as if spent the week getting my toes wet and learning a little bit about each project that I will be attacking this summer. It was new and exciting but not too demanding quite yet. This week, however, I found myself suddenly facing deadlines and ESL classes of close to 20 people. I spent my afternoons pouring over ESL lesson plans and hours making copies, only to find that I still wasn’t prepared for my class on Tuesday.

I was definitely slightly defeated and frustrated as I walked home from my class Tuesday evening. I had shown up with a binder filled with worksheets, feeling confident and prepared. All seemed well as small groups of students and volunteers arrived. I greeted everyone and handed out some worksheets. Jorge helped me separate the students into different levels and I assigned volunteers to each group. Like I said, all was well. Then, more families suddenly began entering and I was no longer prepared. I needed to make new copies so that everyone could have worksheets but I also couldn’t abandon my own students. I was a bit overwhelmed.

Needless to say, everything worked out. We eventually had enough copies for all of the students and all of the volunteers and students seemed very appreciative of the class. I, however, was exhausted. I was never expecting the class facilitation to take so much out of me. Was I imagining that it would all run perfectly as if I had been leading the classes forever? Yes, I guess that’s what I was thinking.

I feel rather stupid admitting that—that I had assumed that everything would work out right away and that I wouldn’t have any road bumps. Isn’t this whole experience about branching out and learning from others. So, that’s what I should be doing!

I set up the material for my Thursday class in a much more strategic manner. I contemplated all of the different levels that had been in the class earlier in the week, how many students could potentially show up for a class, and what type of group activities would be possible. I printed out worksheets upon worksheets, lesson plans upon lesson plans, and lots of note cards. And it helped! Taking what I had learned from my Tuesday class and spending extra time preparing, I was able to begin the Thursday class smoothly and efficiently. I conducted a couple of group activities and only had to make two copies. I could feel that I was more comfortable this class and that was wonderful.

No, I never expected to be running my own ESL classes this summer, but I am really enjoying it. It’s a challenge, that’s for sure, but it is one of the most rewarding projects that I have ever been a part of. Each student that walks into that room in the SCCAP building has a smile on his or her face and is eager to learn. They all laugh their way through the class because they are truly enjoying themselves. I cannot wait to see what next week has in store for me.

Emily Hauck ’14