Thursday, May 24, 2012

School's out for summer!

Well, not quite yet. Moroccan schools stay open until mid-June, when students take their year-end exams. I mentioned in a previous post that the biggest of these year-end exams is the one for high school seniors, called the "Baccalaureate," or BAC for short. You can think of this test a bit like the SAT, except that a student's score on the BAC determines his or her entire career prospects - what university or technical school he or she can get into (if any), what job he or she can get, etc. Whereas in the U.S., even with a bad SAT score a person can typically find a community college or a technical school, in Morocco with a bad BAC score, there are few to no options. And if a student fails the BAC exam, he or she must redo the senior year of high school and retake the exam.

So it's a pretty intense test. Subjects vary depending on the student's track in school, but most include English. So, Justin and I decided to end all of our other classes in advance of the end of school so that we can focus on the BAC students. We are doing lots of one-on-one tutoring, grammar classes, practice exams, and review sessions. So far most of the students who have come to the sessions are the ones who are most motivated and less in need of help, but even if our sessions will help these students to increase their score by a point or two, it could make a huge difference.

To celebrate the end of our other classes, we threw small parties in each class. Here are photos from each of the parties:

Our Beginner Kids class - ages range from 12-16 years.
The guys of our Beginner Adults class (one of the guys did not want to
take a photo with girls, I assume for religious reasons, so we did separate
male/female photos)
The girls of our Beginner Adults class.
Our Advanced Speaking class.
It has really been an educational experience for me in learning how to teach over the past few months. I have learned how to think about topics in creative ways and to determine the best means of teaching with the students' needs and levels in mind. I have learned how to incorporate multiple learning styles into one lesson. I have learned the importance of continuously reviewing old material, even if it feels repetitive to me. And I have started to learn what students like and what they don't in the classroom (more learning through games and conversation, less lecturing on grammar). Another really interesting part of the experience has been working with Justin - In a way, it has added a new element to our relationship, learning how to plan and work together. We've learned about each other's strengths and weaknesses in the classroom and how to best utilize those to be as successful as possible.

I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to continue teaching in the fall, now that I have a better handle on what I'm doing. We'll be continuing to teach until mid-June, then we'll launch into the summer, which will consist of meetings, visitors, and lots of traveling. I look forward to sharing the adventures as they come along!

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