Monday, May 26, 2008

Time on My Hands Now

Today was the final bell that marked the end of this school year. Hurray! A very big hurray! I’ve finished my first year of school. I got through the English Clubs, Teachers Meetings, Classes and various other events without losing any fingers or toes!
Looking back on my year, I definitely see room for improvement. I can spend more time making sure my students are engaged in the material and are really learning it, not just regurgitating the lesson. End of the year testing I think reflects as much on the teacher as it does on the students, and most students did not do as well as I’d hoped they would.
I think overall though, it was a good experience and I’m going to consider it warm up. I only spent 6 months at this school instead of the full 9 (the first three months were at my training site). Next year I will have the entire school year, from first bell to last, to work with my students and perfect their English…or at least get them all to say Good Afternoon instead of Good Morning at all times of the day.
Slava, my counterpart, is no longer going to be a zavuch (vice principle) because the Education Department doesn’t think our school needs two. He’s happy with the decision because now he can take more classes. He tells me that he will work with the elementary students (those are the cute 3rd and 4th graders) and younger grades. I’m excited about this because I enjoy those kids and am eager to work with them as well. He’s also going to take more of the younger grades, 6-8th, which I also enjoy.
Let me switch it around and tell you about this final bell ceremony. As you can guess based on previous posts, it was an event marked by music and speeches. The graduating 11th graders paraded out of the school in their uniforms to rhythmic clapping and stood beneath their balloon arch. Various speeches about the end of school and taking the next step were given by teachers and administrators. The 10th graders and 1st graders both made presentations to the 11th graders. It was actually fairly similar to an American graduation, except it was also a ceremony for the younger grades.
There was another ceremony inside the school where the 11th graders sang songs to thank their teachers. This was the time for tears! Oh man, it was like watching sprinklers go off in a line. The first girl started crying, then those next to her joined in, and it continued down the line. Hopefully they were all happy tears.
Sadly, for the 11th graders, their school isn’t over yet. They have another week of consultations with teachers as they prepare for their big exam, the ENT. Every student takes this and is tested in the typical academic subjects plus one of their choosing. Only one kid is doing English, but that’s fairly normal. This test decides their academic future, even more than our SAT’s do. Depending on the subject you choose you will enter your field of study and get a job based on that.
Anyway, that’s on June 2nd, and their final graduation ceremony where they get certificates is on June 20th. I imagine they’re all fairly nervous.
Now I’ve got about three weeks to sit around, trying to think of things to do. On the 15th I have an English camp here in Zhelezinka where I will attempt to teach baseball. On the 23rd our Frisbee camp begins which is pretty exciting. Right after that, I’m coming back to you guys! August will be my slow month, with much sitting around. All throughout summer I will also be running English Clubs as normal, so that’s at least something to keep me busy.
Lastly, I have found a new host family. I will be moving in with them on the 1st. Highlights include: cows (no geese), chickens, sheep, a summer kitchen, running water (no indoor toilet though), a live in grandma and grandpa and another wild toddler (though this one seems quieter). They seem like a friendly and warm family. There will be the before mentioned grandparents and baby, plus the mom and her brother. I imagine this will work out much better than my last family, I’ve got faith.
That’s all I have for you guys. My brother is planning a big bash including soccer and BBQ to which everybody is invited. I’ll get anybody interested my new mailing address once I know what it is. See you all in July.


Trav said...

According to my Russian friend, those uniforms used to be all the girls wore in the schooling days of Communist Russia. Now that dress is reserved only for graduation.

Congrats on finishing up the school year unscathed.

Wendy said...

You should be very proud of yourself. I can't believe you've already finished 6 months of teaching. And by the way, after looking at the last picture, I want to know what you did with the real Jeff. xxoo. Can't wait to see you!

Whitney said...

I was just reading through your old blogs, and wish that I had introduced myself to it sooner. Yer blogs are pretty damn vivid and I kinda wish I was there too. Besides the frozen boogers.
Anyway, though it seems you have settled in a lot since you've got there, I can identify man. People treating you like the village idiot, loneliness, and scary public transportation seem to be cross cultural. Though I have to hand it to you, at least from what you write, you seem to take it all pretty damn well. And I think you trump my experience on the indoor plumbing front: toilets were definitely indoors.

All is good here, school is almost over and the troops are breaking up. Just saw Bret off yesterday, he's going to go find himself, or a bear or something. Seattle hasn't changed at all since you've left. Especially since you've been planting potatoes and chatting up up VAKs (I used your own terminology :) and we've just been going to Finn's. And subway, and stuff.

Sorry about Steph and my shitty return time on turkey sandwiches.

Cool chattin' with you today, and can't wait to see ya in july!