I was running late and took a taxi to school. Only to find my office locked and my co-teachers nowhere to be found. Because of an opening ceremony for the Freshman entering the school, I would have no classes until after lunch. And so, it was hurry up and wait – to the tune of four hours, which I just sat on a couch and slept because I had nothing to read, no computer connection, and no access to the office or wandered the halls looking into classrooms.
Did get called down with the other new teachers to meet the founders of the school. The new teachers were nervous for some reason. One guy translated for me (so nice! the FIRST TIME anyone has bothered, believe it or not) and the founders thought HE was the foreign teacher, since they heard him speaking English.
The kids assembled outside and the new teachers went and sat on a podium, but nobody asked me to so I continued to walk around, sleep, repeat from above. At one point I played hookie and walked around the neighborhood, I was so bored. My return coincided with lunch and one teacher made a point of eating with me. He wanted to tell me about his one month in Seattle and how it rained the entire time, and about his two years going to school in Kentucky. He asked if it was really true my desk was in the Vice Principal’s office, and if it was really true I had children 24 and 25 years old. The food was great, btw. Turns out there is a separate cafeteria and menu for the faculty of 90. “the kids are really mad about that,” he said. Oh! Well maybe we should go eat with them once in awhile. “Impossible,” he said, “it’s too crowded for teachers to join. Which I took to mean, don’t spoil the good gig we got going on here.
My first class was only moderately okay in my opinion. I had seen other instructors using microphones, and I had been told there was audio/video equipment. Because noone had shown me a room prior to me having to teach class, I had to go get random help from the teacher’s room. Turns out the A/V doesn’t work for mp3’s, and not from Mac’s. And the microphones I saw are purchased individually by the teachers if they think they need it. Anyway, the first class was boys and the male co-teacher was not there, so the entire portion of the first day which we had discussed that I wanted him to act as translator for, he wasn’t there. So I think I spoke totally over the kid’s heads. And then the last lesson I taught, the boys just refused to work together in groups: they’d just sit there, waiting for someone else in the group to start doing something. So irritating.
After that class I spoke with a really friendly teacher for an hour who DING DING DING!!! was actually talking about hospitality and taking me out to eat and helping me out, etc., etc. How refreshing. She helped me identity the English teachers in a book, gave me some inside perspective on the school, and availed herself to me in many ways. “Is it true you have to sit in the Vice Principal’s office?” she asked. “Oh no! That is not good. We call that the ‘hell desk.’ Nobody wants to sit there.” She told me I had to be strong and fight that decision. I told her it’s hard to fight when you are forced to have other people talk for you. She showed me the Vice Principal’s other desk in the teacher’s room, and told me that whenever he was in his office, I should sit there.
Second class seemed a little brighter yet also loathe to do group work. I presented things a little better to them too, but still I think I will have to ditch my lesson plan and come up with something easier tonight. These 9th grader’s English is not quite as good as the 8th graders I taught in Thailand. They are also more hesitant to get up out of their desks or to do anything disorderly. However, once there is a break from order they seem to have a tendency towards anarchy at that point…I’m kind of disappointed, since I really wanted to share some subtleties of western culture that takes a little more language skills than they have. I had been hoping for more advanced grades but got freshmen. Oh well. Maybe the girls will do better, as is actually typical of foreign language learners. I’ll prepare a backup lesson just in case…
ONE BRIGHT NOTE was everyone has expressed shock over my age, and I figured they were just humoring me. But when I wrote my age on the board today (part of the exercise) there were many audible gasps from the room of students. So YAYY!!! I actually HAVE aged well, and it’s not just written off that it’s because I’m Asian, like I and everyone else tends to do in the states. Even the Asian kids think I am much younger than I am. That just warms this middle aged heart all to pieces…