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Co-teachers

 
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ncaraway



Joined: 15 Feb 2010
Posts: 96
Location: Tainan, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 3:49 am    Post subject: Co-teachers Reply with quote

I finally landed my first teaching job at a buxiban teaching 3-12 year olds. To prepare myself, I've been getting acquainted with the textbooks.

I will be working with a Taiwanese co-teacher who I presume is bilingual. (I've been studying Mandarin for about 2 months so my skills are very limited.) I will meet the co-teacher on Monday. I don't know what the division of labor is between the two of us. I'm assuming we'll be equals, though that doesn't seem quite fair as I'm a newbie and will probably have to rely on this person heavily in the beginning.

That said, any tips or insights into working with native-language co-teachers is appreciated.

Many thanks.
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52skidoo



Joined: 12 Mar 2012
Posts: 32
Location: Taiwan

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:27 am    Post subject: Co teacher Reply with quote

Hi, good luck with your new job.
I have been here for over ten years and had co teachers from time to time.
Each experience was different but there are some basic things you need to know.
1. Their most important role is to watch your teaching methods and everything else then report back to your boss how you doing.
2. They can help with discipline problems.
3. They are great for helping how to explain a game or other activities to the kids for the first time, in Chinese.

I had one co teacher who did absolutely nothing to help me. She just sat at her desk and prepared her classes for the afternoon and criticized my teaching because I wasn't doing it the way she thought it should be done.

On another occasion I had a great co teacher with a great attitude that was truly amazing.

Hope you get a nice one!
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ncaraway



Joined: 15 Feb 2010
Posts: 96
Location: Tainan, Taiwan

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your response. This is helpful. I haven't been able to get a lot of information about how they expect things will run. What I've been able to gather so far is that the co-teacher and I will rotate leading the class. For example, I will have the class for 30 minutes, then she will have the class for 30 minutes. Maybe I'm just nervous being a newbie, but if I were in charge I don't think I'd start out by putting a "green" teacher in front of the kids alone. I speak a little Chinese but not much.
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52skidoo



Joined: 12 Mar 2012
Posts: 32
Location: Taiwan

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are welcome. I guess things are changing. I have never heard of doing that with a co teacher. But I guess it makes sense to the management. Lots of schools like having newbies because they can mold you to do things the way they want them done. Teachers with loads of experience are often inflexible.
So best of luck. Hope you have a good teaching experience here. Most teachers have a good first year if their managers are half way decent.
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Taylor



Joined: 24 Oct 2003
Posts: 383
Location: Texas/Taiwan

PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:02 am    Post subject: * On working with co-teachers Reply with quote

Hi ncaraway,

Best wishes as you begin teaching in Taiwan.

I'd like to state that I agree with everything that 52skidoo posted.

I'm guessing that you will work with different co-teachers. Some co-teachers you will like very much for their kindness and helpfulness, while others may seem to be working against you.

Just let us know how things seem to be working out. (We can't predict exactly what will happen....)

Don't worry about your Chinese ability. In fact, it's probably better if you don't speak a single word of Chinese in class.

In fact, you will give the co-teacher "face" if you speak to her (usually a female) in English. This is not to say that it's bad to use Chinese while interacting with "local" teachers, staff, students and even the students' parents.

However, it will be preferable to speak English 98% of the time.

This may not be true if you are in a locale such as Miao-li, Ping-tung, or Chang-hwa--(these are quite rural areas, all things considered).

Hope this is not information overload. It's nearly midnight here, so please forgive me if anything is incoherent.

I'm in Texas now. I really miss Taiwan. Wish I could be there again. (I will be back someday!)

Taylor

P.S. Incidentally, practicing your Chinese with 4th and 5th graders in Taiwan will allow you to improve quickly. They are old enough to know how you should say things, but they are still child-like enough to point out your mistakes without sugar-coating anything!
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ncaraway



Joined: 15 Feb 2010
Posts: 96
Location: Tainan, Taiwan

PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Taylor,

Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

An update: I met the co-teacher and we both met with the school administrator today to review the curriculum for the fall semester, which starts next week. More on that below.

Background: This is a small buxiban that was on the brink of closing. The school's benefactors wanted to keep it going so they brought in a friend to redo everything. That person hired me as their only native English speaker. Even though I have no experience the selling point is that I'm in Taiwan permanently and they want me to forge a long-term relationship with the students. I'm game. (FWIW, I do have a TEFL Certificate).

Classroom logistics: They currently have 4 classes: 2 kindergarten age and 2 elementary school age. Each will meet 3x a week for 1 hour each time. Each one hour class will be split between me and the Taiwanese co-teacher (30 minutes each). Her focus will be games and assisting with students' problems. My focus will be phonics and the primary lesson plans. Designing the lesson plans has been placed on me but I don't think it will be too difficult given the textbooks we're using (Let's Go, Hip Hip Hooray Phonics, and Scarecrow and Friends).

For the kindergarten-age kids they hope to have a teaching assistant available to help me with discipline and the children's other special needs. It sounds nice but I don't think they have anyone for that position yet, and to be honest, I'm not sure they have the budget for it.

If all this goes well and I prove to be popular (which isn't a given), they hope to add additional classes of high school age and even adults. That's probably another reason I was hired: I'm willing to settle for only 6 hours a week now with the possibility of more hours if I do well. After all, I am a newbie so I need to get some experience under my belt somehow.

All that being said, I welcome feedback and comments. Smile
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52skidoo



Joined: 12 Mar 2012
Posts: 32
Location: Taiwan

PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to hear things are taking shape. I can see the management's point of using the local teacher for games, on the other hand, games are a big part of any tefler's toolbag.

You are certain to face a lot of cultural differences that defy western logic. Feel free to PM me about things like that which are not job related but make a huge difference on getting by from day to day feeling good about yourself and your environment.

Best wishes.
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52skidoo



Joined: 12 Mar 2012
Posts: 32
Location: Taiwan

PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Taylor,
Nice post. I live in Taiwan and miss Texas, hah!
Take care.
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ncaraway



Joined: 15 Feb 2010
Posts: 96
Location: Tainan, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One year later and I thought I should offer a follow up, so here goes.

There was some initial tension with the co-teacher but that has long since passed. She was somewhat cold and dismissive of assisting with tasks she thought I should do, such as administer and grade tests. This tension went away quickly and we now get along quite well.

My employer placed one teaching assistant (TA) in the kindie/preschool classrooms with me to maintain order to translate as needed. The TAs are college students whose English is very good. Their presence has been mostly helpful. I've had to caution them a few times because they have a tendency to simply translate everything I say. That is problematic because I can't tell whether the students are beginning to comprehend English or if they're just responding to the TA's translation. Beyond that, my only beef is that I would like the TAs to show up a few minutes before class so I can review the lesson plan with them. As it is, I have to explain to them during class, which wastes time. Those are workplace-specific complaints, I suspect.
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