My Most Proudest Classroom Moment? Gaining A PA

My Most Proudest Classroom Moment? Gaining A PA

Dean Barnes Kuta Beach

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. The host for this month is ‘The Kimchi Kronicles‘, here you can find other similar articles. I’ll be posting a new ESL related article to this blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please get in touch with me at, and I’ll let you know how you can start participating!

Kuta Beach SunsetHello dear readers and welcome back to another installation of (cue trumpets) the Reach To Teach Blog Carnival. This month I’m going to take you back to my teaching days in Bali, Indonesia which was my first ever teaching position and share with you a tale about a young boy I used to teach, he was my first success story.

So we are right at the beginning of my teaching career, I’m as excited as a rainbow vomiting unicorn about starting my first teaching position/life career in the beautiful surroundings of Bali, I approach the classroom with a war raging in my stomach between two opposing butterflies, one from the house of nerves, one from the family of excitement.

Its my first day at a new school, I enter and I am faced with 12 children sat down, looking up at the new teacher, smiles on their faces, books and pens at the ready, and all looking forward to seeing what the new teacher is like…all but one. Introducing student X! Apparently the wall, the floor, his pen or even the film of dust forming on the window sill was way more important to him than class.

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As time went on my teaching flourished and the students became more and more comfortable with me, all but student X! His initial boredom followed its natural path to disruptive behavior and almost always left me questioning my teaching ability and asking myself ‘what am I doing wrong?’

One gorgeous day in Bali drying myself in the sun on a white sandy beach after a hard day of surfing (it truly was a hard life), I couldn’t get my issue with this student out of my head, I sat and analyzed his behavior and what I could do to try to help him, after a bit of research on the internet later that evening I found an answer which I was willing to give a try.

The following Monday I went into class and taught as I usually would, with student X behaving as he usually would, but at the end of the class I asked him to stay behind for 5 minutes. It was at this point that I gained a personal assistant.

Little student X was thus renamed teacher Deans PA; he was instructed to meet me 5 minutes before class to carry my teachers box, he was my official worksheet handout guy and I even got him involved with photocopying which he loved.

I realized that what he was looking for was attention, but attention on his own terms. Not the responsibility of answering questions in class but extra responsibilities that made him feel special. Did this turn him into the golden child of 2012? Is he now working for NASA as a result of my classes? Was he the youngest child to grasp the English language in the history of mankind? No he wasn’t, but his behavior improved drastically, he liked me a lot more and he was engaged in class (especially as there was the threat of me choosing a different child to be my PA if his behavior wasn’t up to scratch forever loomed)

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Now you may think this was unfair on the other children to be giving him this much attention, well, kindly bury those thoughts of unfair teaching my friend, the PA position was made available to other students on a weekly rotating basis, yet it was student X who had the responsibility of choosing the new PA, that’s right, he was promoted to recruitment consultant. He had to give an explanation for his reasons why he chose that student, this made him say positive things about his classmates and tricked him into giving up his title every now and again without him feeling like he had lost all control.

This is my most memorable and proudest moment in my teaching career, watching the change in that student develop as a result of my own teaching is one of the best feeling and I still check the NASA employment list every now and again, you never know.

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