Week five was a pretty normal teaching week because at school the focus was back on academics after the holiday. After the morning meeting on Monday, my principal also had a class meeting with the 10th graders to discuss their progress at school and an issue with cheating that had occurred during the mid-term exams. It was sad to hear because cheating, stealing, and breaking the core values of the school are not tolerated. The students were very respectful and the peer pressure was enough to make the cheater turn themself in to her after the discussion. It is very clear that the leadership from my principal filters down to the staff and students and that enforcing of the standards and being firm, but fair is a necessary part of being a great leader here.
For classes I had civics complete an activity where they had to discuss in groups what their utopia would look like. Each group then had to draw a picture representing what they decided on. they would then present and explain their drawing and Utopia to the class. Overall the activity went very well and the students took off with it right away. It was fun to listen in on what they thought needed to be changed about Indonesia and what things they wanted to include in their own worlds. It also became very clear that some people in the groups had definite ideas about what should be included and as a group the students had to work out their differences to reach and agreement. Standing back it was nice to see people literally working with their heads together and discussing their reasons for choosing one item over another. By the end of class it was also clear that these student had a very creative side and that there were many in our class with a gift for design and art.
The one thing that I had not anticipated for class was having to stop students from speaking too long. In the United States I had to give students a time minimum to reach because getting them talking front of the class and presenting was like pulling teeth. They dreaded it, dragged their feet, and barely wanted to meet the minimum even when it was assigned. Here the students would get up and talk (all be it a bit nervous because of having to use English) but would speak until they had completely explained every detail they discussed. It was not something that I had anticipated and I had to limit each group in order to give all the groups and equal chance at speaking. It really illuminated how different American students and Indonesian students are and it caused me once again to reconsider my teaching style so that if fit more to their needs.
The rest of the week was focused on IGSCE (Cambridge English Exams for international students and non – native speakers) preparation since the students would be taking their speaking exams the following week. I was actually able to help several students throughout their week go through some exercises similar to what they would face during the exam and give them some feedback on where to improve and how to speak more naturally.
Friday morning I got a surprise while I was working in my office because the history teacher asked me to come in and teach his class about twenty minutes before it was supposed to start. I was a bit shocked and scrabbled to come up with some kind of material to teach not knowing what the students were studying or how it related to any history that I would know. The history teacher wanted me to teach on Native American history and relate it with ancient Indonesian history.
Once I got into class I was able to do a lecture style lesson with student participation and some role-playing. It became very clear that the students knew Indonesian history very well and had been focusing on pre-historic times. I was able to relate in a brief overview of the ice bridge and migration of native people from Asia to North American and then move chronologically through the first interactions between Native Americans and Europeans while describing the various Native American groups I was familiar with. In the end I was very happy the students were curious and asking questions. They definitely wanted to know more and were not concerned at all that I had run over into their lunch time. Needless to say the week ended by covering 4.5 million years of history in 45 minutes!