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Advice pls!

  1. #1
    cupcake is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Kowloon, HK

    Advice pls!

    Hi everybody,

    Sorry in adv that this is a long post!

    Im currently working as a Teacher's Assistant for a kindergarten class in a tuition center. Most students do not understand English, and are unable to write, read etc.

    The director of the center told me that despite I was a good teacher, they only hire Westerners as teachers as this was the parents' preference. Additionally, I am also not to speak any Cantonese in class.

    The problem is:

    The kids dont understand the teacher at all! They repeat after her, but mostly have NO idea what she's saying. Likewise, the teacher also has no idea what the students are saying. In short, class is difficult- especially worksheet time.

    Teachers for my kindy class also happen to leave every few months. The current teacher Im working with has no idea what to do. She asks me in class what she should be teaching!

    In class, I call attendance, prepare the materials, try to explain to the children what theyre learning/doing, assist them in their worksheets, collect their work, grade their work and tests, do crafts with them, clean up after them, and lead them out to their parents.In this ONE hour, Im practically doing the teacher's job, and get 1/4th the pay!!

    After class, parents sometimes stop me to ask about their kid's progress. I told one mother that her son told me specifically that he did not understand a word the teacher was saying.. and that he ONLY understands Cantonese and Mandarin. I also told her that he was very quiet but I tried and will continue to try to help him by explaining the lesson to him in the simplest English possible and then Cantonese if needed.

    I thought all was well after this explanation. However, I had a good talking to from the director about giving my honest opinion and that I spoke Cantonese in class. The director instructed me to not do so again, and should the parent ask for my opinion again, I should just say that the kid is adapting, is doing fine and more classes will show improvement.

    A couple of weeks have passed. The kid still doesnt know what he's doing, and copies off other children. His mother waited for me after class this week, and asked me how he was doing. I said he was doing fine.

    But now, Im feeling bad for lying. I genuinely and sincerely want to help this kid. He needs a teacher/someone who actually understands him and what he's saying, rather than a 'teacher' who says that I should not bother about him, as he's just so young. Alternatively, maybe he should be in K1 class not K2.

    So my question is this-

    Should I tell the mother the truth about how her kid is doing and potentially sacrifice my job ? Or would it seem as if Im just badmouthing the center and teacher? Would a mother really want to know that her kid is just not measuring up?
    Id really like to help the kid..he's really sweet. I wouldnt even mind staying behind to go through the alphabet etc with him.. but I dont think this would fly with the director.. Sigh. Advice anybody?

  2. #2
    Bumps Guest

    You should never lie to the parents about the child's progress as they will be left behind and put in situations that will stress them and not help his learning. The parents will think their child is doing better than they are and this will only hinder his learning and his future prospects.

    You must be tactful in the way you speak about the child's progress to the parents - as when talking about any child really. You could say something along the lines of "I am assisting him, he is learning at his own rate, students acquire a second language at different paces, today he understood how to..... etc etc. Always put a positive spin as you never want a parent to be upset about their child, but never lie. You could also say "today we did ........ and although he could not understand ........... , he was able to ............"

    When the English teacher is teaching, yes, there should only be English spoken in the classroom. Reverting back to mother tongue will only hinder a child's development of the language. This is hard to do and frustrating. But it is hard love. Try using more gestures to assist understanding.

    You should never put your place of work in a bad light as it is really shooting yourself in the foot. Never discuss the turn over rate of teachers with parents - always point out the positives of your colleagues to parents.

    It must be very very frustrating to essentially be teaching the class. To save you from constantly helping the teacher, maybe you could tell her what she is expected to do, when and for how long. She may already know this, but don't assume. Give her a timetable of the class procedures and write down where she needs to prepare and also what your role is in the classroom. This may sound really simple, but she may not know, she may be a little confused with her role. Yes, she should know - but this will help you out in the long run probably.

    The idea of staying behind after class with the child probably will not sit well with your Director. They may think that you are getting paid under the table whilst using the school's facilities. They may also be concerned with insurance issues, your workload (they would not want your work to suffer as a result of any extra work) and they might get concerned that more parents would want this service that the schools does not actually offer (word will get around that you are doing this for the student) - and if parents ask the Director if they can use your services too and has to decline them - it would be bad for business.

    What you could do is suggest activities that will help the student develop outside school. Such as play with English speaking children, watch English TV shows, provide more English books to read, read to him in English (you could also give him English books to take home if your school provides this service).

    If you do the child's report, you must always give an accurate account of their ability. But always have a reason to back it up. For example, a worksheet that they could not accomplish, or an art project that they could not understand how to do.

    If you feel that the teacher is confusing the students (some teachers do speak in a manner that is fast and unclear at times) you could tell her that she needs to speak more clearly, or you could give the same message to the students in a clear, concise and direct way. The teacher may then realise that the students understand more when they are spoken to in this manner and she may adapt the same method.

    This may or may not help your situation, but I hope it does. I empathise with you.

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