Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let the Teaching Begin...

I apologize for it being such a long time since my last post, but I literally have been SO busy! It's not an easy job to teach 10 different classes, in two different schools, with four different teachers.. I wish I were kidding.

During the month of August, I taught classes to my fellow colleagues at both of my schools. It was a lot more difficult than I imagined it would be, because we did not have any textbooks and the majority of them were absolute beginners. I wish I could have gotten the teachers from both schools together into one class, but they insisted that that would be impossible (I have come to find that the two schools are actually pretty competitive, or so it seems...) Any way, I taught them the alphabet first, and then worked on teaching them common conversational phrases. Since most of my colleagues are women in their 30s, 40s, or 50s, it's really difficult for them to just now begin to learn another language - especially when it comes to pronunciation. Since they didn't even know the English alphabet, they needed these things called "transcriptions" for all of the words.. which are like, the "actual" ways to pronounce words by using these weird symbols. For example, since the word "light" obviously has no "g" sound in it, there's some special symbol you use to write out how to actually pronounce it. I know, very confusing. Since I had no knowledge of these "transcriptions" prior to them being shown to me, it was nearly impossible for me to teach them to my colleagues. Alright, enough of that..

At the beginning of September, the teacher classes were ended in both of the schools so I could take a breather before beginning the school year on September 15th. Wasn't much of a breather though because all of the teachers are required to be at school from September 1st-September 15th to plan their classes for the year. So I switched back and forth between the two schools trying to get some clue of what was going on, which I never fully did, which is becoming quite a common occurrence. One day, I was supposed to meet with both of my counterparts (one from each school) to discuss my schedule for the year and when I'll be at each school and what not, and one of them didn't show up. So the other counterpart called her, and oh my, did that turn into a mess! It's really hard to schedule time to work at two schools when the two schools have a hard time finding out how to make my schedule!

In the end, a schedule was worked out in which I'll be at the Hristo Botev school on Mondays and Tuesdays and the Nikola Vapstarov school on Wednesdays and Thursdays. They set aside Friday for me so that I can do some of my own activities with the kids or the teachers (on which I've decided to start a journalism club with some of the kids from the Botev school). I'm officially in my third week of school now and I suppose it's going alright. I teach with Pauli and Maya at the Vapstarov school and Brani and Vecela at the Botev school. At both schools, I teach 9th, 10th, and 11th graders, and at the Vapstarov school I have one class with 7th graders and one with 8th graders. If you're thinking my schedule sounds hectic, you'd be right. It's a lot of running around, and I'm still getting used to the kids and the classrooms and all the different buildings (because they're doing construction on one of my schools so some of the classes are taught in nearby buildings), but I'm hoping that I'll have the hang of it soon so I can focus my energy on teaching rather than trying to figure out where I'm supposed to be and when.

As for the kids, most of them are really great. I brought pictures from America into all of my classes and for the most part, they seemed really interested in getting to know me and where I come from. Some classes, however, are going to take a lot more work and energy. But hopefully after doing some fun English activities and being introduced to a different way of learning, they will begin to enjoy it a little more. I definitely have been showered with attention and gifts, however, usually from the younger classes. Yesterday I got a book in English from one of my students and on the inside cover she wrote, "To my Dear Miss Beck," - cute, I know :)

Speaking of school, it's time for my classes to start for the day (and yes, it's almost 2 p.m. - the school schedules in most high schools in Bulgaria run until 7 p.m.! who in the WORLD wants to be at school until that late?!) Oh well, ciao za sega!

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