Phew! What a busy month November has been at Oxford English Academy. It has been a little crazy, but at the same time really amazing due to the lovely group of motivated and supportive students I taught this cycle. There was a real buzz on campus with all the classes now in the same building and you could really feel the difference. Besides my morning, Upper Intermediate general English class and my afternoon IELTS private student, there were a variety of other interesting activities. It was my turn to organize the class outing and also one of the ‘Free fun Friday’ afternoons. Over the course of the month we had different members of the admin staff pop in to join our lessons with a view to getting some insight into what goes on in the classroom. It was also time for teacher observations again, to ensure our teaching is consistent with the high standard set by Oxford.
With a view to the campus change, it seems like the students really benefitted from all being together. They communicated better between levels and were able to make plans for after class activities more easily. There also seemed to be a much better cultural and nationality mix of friendship groups which added to the necessity to keep speaking English so, even though the campus has been super busy, there has been a great improvement in student interaction.
I know most of Oxford’s teachers would agree, organising a class outing which appeals to the majority of students in the school is always rather a challenge, but my job was made easy this time by the weather prediction of warm, sunny, clear skies. What could be better than a stroll around our uniquely special and very beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens? Fortunately, the students were with me on this one and we managed to fill five minibus taxis. It was a wonderful day in that the students mingled well and got the opportunity to learn about nature and the interesting, indigenous flora and flora of our region. They saw the gorgeous yellow species of Strelizia named ‘Mandela’s Gold’ and, although we were not able to see the well-known King Proteas (due to the fact that they flower mainly in the winter months of June and July), we did see the very striking yellow and orange Pin Cushion Protea varieties everywhere. They were also suitably impressed by the ancient Cycad collection and drinking the natural spring water that runs from the legendary Colonal Bird’s bath, but the highlight of the trip was definitely ‘The Boomlsang’. Students thoroughly enjoyed the canopy walk along a wooden bridge that takes you high up into the green tree tops and offers spectacular views of the park, the surrounding suburbs and distant, hazy mountains. The walk culminated in a luscious, grassy area where everybody had the opportunity to take a well-earned rest, share snacks and opinions on the things they had seen. It seemed like a great time was had by all!
As for lessons, I can truly say that I have had a very enjoyable experience this cycle. It is great that classes at Oxford have become so multinational. Class input is very interesting for everybody, as there are so many different experiences and cultural aspects to share. So much more English is happening, as well. We had a lot of fun with pronunciation, amongst other things, in the general English class and I have been focusing on different parts of the IELTS writing exam and some useful techniques to increase marks, in afternoon private lessons. A class observation by Debbie, our Director of Studies, which always adds a little pressure to a teacher’s day, I suppose, due to the fact that you obviously want to be at your utmost best, also added great value to my lessons in that I gained some much appreciated reassurance that my teaching was up to standard and some valuable insights into how I can enhance my students’ learning experience further. I must also add that if all our students were as enthusiastic as the members of the admin staff, Sakeena and Shahieda, who joined my class on different mornings, were in participating in class activities, it would make for great lessons. They clearly had a lot of fun putting themselves into students’ shoes.
On Friday, we went to Jewel Africa for a talk on diamond cutting and the mining of tanzanite, as part of our ‘Fun, free Friday’ programme. It was all very interesting and we got to see some exquisite jewellery. One student got the opportunity to try on a special diamond and tanzanite necklace worth an absolute fortune and she got the photo to prove it! We ended off with the afternoon with a word search activity to revise some key vocabulary relating to diamonds. Cintia won the challenge as she finished first, so I owe her a lollipop on Monday.
As busy as November has been as a teacher though, I do not think we have reached our peak yet. Now we are well and truly moving into the ‘silly season’ as they call it, which will take us all to another whole level of being as busy as worker bees, both at school and on the home front, for those of us who have special celebrations to plan for during the holidays, but this is okay as we should never be too busy making a living that we have no time to enjoy our lives. Both forms of busy can lead to our own self-fulfilment and satisfaction, of course. At school, we see the progress of our students and can feel we have had something to do with that, and at home, all the hectic plans can lead to great quality time holidays spent with those we love. Good luck with all your December busyness!