Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Life of a TEFL

Today one of my 5th grade students came in wearing a shirt that said: "Race for Sex". It had a picture of a car on the shirt. English fail- clearly his mother can't read English.

I also was required to become an expert on rabies. When the 6th grade students were learning about "scary things" in the book, there was the word "bat". One child then raised their hand and asked if you would die if you were bitten by a bat. My counterpart turned to me and said, "What does happen Sara?" I guess I look like someone who knows the ins and outs of bats and rabies because after telling them they might get rabies, they had a ton of questions about rabies. Peace Corps Training fail- I was not taught about rabies.

I was just friended by one of my 1st graders on Facebook. Life fail- not mine, but this country's obsession with Facebook just reached an all new high with this friend request.

Our school has been going through Ministry inspections this week. There have been four men from the area in town observing the teachers and writing up notes. In theory this makes sense, however, in practice, I am not really convinced it is the most effective system. I was with one of my counterparts when she got inspected and the man came into class with 10 minutes left. I had been teaching, but my counterpart took over since the man wasn't there to critique me. She switched to talking mostly in Macedonian because she wanted to make sure the guy understood what she was saying. He sat in the back and jotted down a few notes. When the bell rang, he left and didn't provide any feedback. I talked with my counterpart right after and she said she was super confused about whether she should speak English or Macedonian. It is English class, however, if the inspector doesn't speak English, how can he judge her teaching if he doesn't understand what she is saying. My other counterpart said she asked for feedback and the men looked super confused and said that's not what they do. What do these men actually do then? I talked with them both about the English vs Macedonian use in the classroom when the inspectors are there and they were both confused about which language they were supposed to use, so clearly the directions we not made very clear.

Because of the inspections, the teachers all are very diligently writing in the red book (the grade book) at the beginning of class instead of doing it at a later date. This means there is a lot of time when the kids are just sitting there, so I have taken advantage of this time to do some fun activities with my kids. In the 1st grade, I made up a song to help teach them what "how are you?" means since I get a lot of blank stares when I ask them that. Within the song, I also taught them a few adjectives- happy, sad, mad, sleepy, and hungry. They loved it and didn't want to stop when it was time for the actual lesson.

In 6th grade, we reviewed parts of the body and then did heads-shoulders-knees-and-toes, which you would never do with 6th graders in the US, but my kids loved it, especially when we went into hyper-speed. Another day I wrote, "Merry Christmas" on the board and they had to rearrange the letters to see how many words they could spell. Whenever I do this activity with them, I always think back to Mrs. Hughes's Language Arts classes because I am pretty sure that is the first time I did the activity. I promised my kids we would have a competition between the classes the next time we did it.

All-in-all, school is going pretty well now. There have been a few rough spots, but it seems like we have finally figured out a rhythm that works for us, just in time for the holidays and the winter break until the end of January!

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