By the way, my brother signed me up for a blog counter. It has a variety of measurements, but the one that really surprised me: 273 people visited my blog from separate computers last week. I just want to say: 1) who are all of you? and 2.) wow...thanks for stopping by!
Anyway, school. I'm not writing about how worried I am about my Turmeric Rice Cake Lady returning to the alley very soon...I'm writing about school. OK. I teach five sixth grade classes, which means that I teach every single sixth grader in the school. Three classes are Language Arts and two are Ancient History. They are labeled 6A through 6E and travel together through all of their classes. I teach on the fourth floor and the copy room is on the first floor (which, by the way, is not the ground floor). The elevator doesn't work and so I do a lot of running up and down the stairs. The copy machine doesn't work, either, but the copy girl runs all of our requests across the street. I guess this is OK, but we don't have the textbooks in from the states yet and we are supposed to rely on copies until that time. Oh, the internet is very slow and doesn't work half the time, either. But we do have LCD projectors that are hooked to our computers, so I have been using lots of visuals.
Let's see...the schedule is a bit crazy. We teach either four or five hours per day, but have at least two hours for breaks or planning, too, which means I arrive at seven and usually leave at five because Tarn (librarian) and I share a taxi back to the castle. Each week, each class has one block period which means they have one hour long class, a five minute break, then another hour long class. It's hard to get used to. And this morning I completely spaced on the fact that I was starting with a block and had only planned for one hour. So I recalled Amy's comment in the last blog about just playing games and using the language and I faked my way through the second hour with fun fun fun. We reenacted Otzi the Iceman's death: I put sticky notes on the foreheads of volunteers (all boys) and had them fight and stab each other and die. They loved it, and the kids had no idea how lame their teacher was. Maybe they even learned something~ However, I can't do that too much because the school is on the fast track to reach IB (International Baccalaureate) level. We are told to push them as much as we can...that is why this particular principal was hired; he specializes in opening new international IB schools. Here is a shot of my floor: pretty exciting, huh?
Things seem to be running rather smoothly, considering how much change the school has experienced in the last year. Many of the new students were required to attend summer school, so their English is OK. Some are so difficult to understand, though. One in particular, Minh, is so darned cute...the most prominent feature on his face: big teeth with even bigger (dirty) braces. He loves to talk and every time he raises his hand I try so hard to understand what he is saying, but I just can't. It doesn't help that the constant drone of motorbikes outside my window drowns out most of what he says. It sounds like the loud lawnmower that would always visit Scriber at the worst teaching moments, the times that you really just wanted to make a point. Plus, construction on a building started today and poor Minh might as well be a big set of clattering braces for all I can understand.
Sixth grade is interesting. I found that they didn't get my witty sense of humor the first day, so I am adjusting it with some success. Breaking things down to this low level is difficult for me, but I am great at thinking of fun games to play, especially at the last minute. And the kids love to get me to pronounce things. Minh loves to act as a conductor to get me to understand intonations...he sweeps his hands up and down, up and down. When I get it right, the whole class says "YES!" (This happens rarely and I usually cannot repeat it.)
What else? The girls hate sitting by the boys and vice versa, but I made a seating chart doing just that. The girls want to gossip with me and be my friend. The boys are polite but distant. I don't have one discipline problem yet. Like I have said a few times, the kids are cute and eager to learn. I tell you what...if you ask me direct questions about school and details you want to know, I will address them. But right now I am going to go peek around the corner to see if she is there and then I'm going up to my hammock. I will try to get pictures of the kids soon...that's what you will really like!
Good morning to you, good night from me! Isn't it strange that I am saying goodbye to Monday and you don't even know it's Monday yet~