Teacher’s Assistant

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve picked up a few extra hours a week as a Teacher’s Assistant. I’m not quire sure how I found myself in this position, and other than simply wanting more hours, I’m not quite sure why I found myself in this position, especially since I have no desire to make a career in education.

However, here I am, about to go off to one of my two morning shifts a week to help the ESLA classes. This class is filled with the brand new transfer students to Whatcom Community College, coming from Iran, Vietnam, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and so on. My first day was two weeks ago, and four students had only just arrived the day before. Some of them can barely understand what’s going on, and I wonder how much study they’ve had prior to hopping the pond.

My job is a little more than grading papers. In fact, I don’t touch anything to do with grading, unless it’s peeking over a student’s shoulder while they grade their own paper. My job is to listen out for individual students, to make sure they’re understanding the instructions in the class, that they’re trying to pronounce things correctly, and so on.

It’s interesting, to say the least, however I do have some qualms.

I’m getting pretty tired of singing Row, Row, Row, Your Boat with them. I don’t agree with her manner of teaching (though I suppose that’s pretty rich of me to say after just writing that I have no intention of going into education). We start each day by standing up and singing children’s songs. The tone with which she talks to them is similar if she were addressing preschoolers.

I understand that perhaps Row Your Boat can act as  good pronunciation exercise, however, these are college students. My French teacher never taught us children’s songs, but showed us simple, yet extremely famous poems, and had us listen to them on YouTube. These are poems we would be studying if I were studying Literature in France, things other college students would study.

I feel embarrassed not just for myself, but for the class when I have to lead the beginning rounds to Row Your Boat to a class of grown students, that are obviously smart, or they wouldn’t be in this exchange program. The majority of them are here to study sciences or business, and while these songs might be unfamiliar to them, the tune of these songs greatly suggests the juvenile nature of them.

I appreciate the opportunity, and that I get paid more to TA than I do as a writing tutor, but I don’t appreciate the way this class is conducted.


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