Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day One Observations

Alright, so Day one done.  Here at the beginning of day two.  Day two should be a little more relaxed, I actually only teach one class on Tuesdays.  Mondays I assist in a block class and teach three classes.  Nothing like jumping right in.  Wednesday I teach a block and two regular periods, and I haven't quite figured out what club time is about yet.  I'm assigned to Public Speaking Club, however Gen, the South African English teacher, may have recruited me to help her with Spanish Club.  I would love to help in Spanish club!  We'll see what transpires.  Gen and I believe we're going to confuse our students into thinking all female western teachers are called some variation of Gen or Jenny.  Oh well, not much to be done about that.  We are addressed by our first names here.  Thursday is going to be my long day, I assist in one block, teach two regular classes and then another block.  Phew.  Friday is just three regular class periods.  There is a lot of prep/planning time here.  Tuesday and Friday morning I don't teach any classes.  There are some prep times in the afternoon as well, but most of my classes meet in the afternoons.  Teachers move from room to room, not students, except for specials like art, computers and PE.  But there is no passing period, so starting and stopping class on time depends on how long the previous class takes to dismiss - especially when you have to lock up the computer lab.

This morning on the way in to school I saw students walking to their college graduation.  They were wearing light white (with the faintest hint of purple) suits and had red, gold and black robes to put over them.  It was really neat watching them walk, bus, taxi and congregate.  Reminded me of everyone congregating around Elliot and walking through the crowds of graduates myself to play in the ceremony.

Yesterday, as it was the first day for the new semester, male students here at the middle school whose hair was deemed too long were lined up and had their hair buzzed shorter.  After they were done they walked to class brushing the stray hairs off their head and shoulders.  It seemed kind of like something from a fraternity rush week, except administered by school personnel.

So I have met the previous computer teacher, the German.  He's given a lot of helpful insights and showed me around a bit.  He's more than happy to pass along the computer classes to me, in fact I think elated might be the proper term.  According to him they covered power point and presentation skills last semester, and it was like pulling teeth.  So I'm thinking we won't do a lot with power point.  However I've discovered that the student's computers have adobe dreamweaver and flash.  I'm going to look into what version, and see what I can come up with for those programs.  I'm sure the students would be a lot more receptive to something new.
The school has a set of computer curriculum guidelines, but it's kind of cryptic, basic and below their level - or plain unrealistic for middle school.  Then there are the textbooks/workbooks - I think they are written for someone who has never seen anything that runs on electricity, but speaks fluent English.
I mean honestly, looking at these computer books - learn the difference between hardware and software.  Save files.  Print documents.  Students this age can do that in their sleep!  My host admitted computers are not her forte.  She cannot tell the difference between PC and Mac, for example, which is why she did not tell me.  So mostly I'm nodding and smiling about following the "curriculum" (there really isn't one for computer class, just the objectives labeled as curriculum).  Quite honestly, all of the worthwhile components of the "curriculum" the students already know.  A few other tidbits - like the difference between a LAN and a WAN?  Um, sorry - I don't really think that's middle school level, or particularly relevant.  And the books are a workbook only-you need the accompanying text book.  We don't have it.  At least computers is an 'elective,' so I can tweak it.  Hopefully I can get things rolling in the adobe programs.
As for the English grammar classes I teach, there is a curriculum and a worthwhile book - in a lot of ways I think I will be doing more teaching straight from the text book than innovation.  I'll work some things in there though.

Other tidbits before we rush off somewhere else: glad I packed skirts.  Teachers dress code is pretty relaxed, except women must wear skirts.  The toilets at school are Eastern style, manual flushing.  By manual flushing I mean there is a basin of water and a bucket, and you fill the toilet with clean water after you finish until it clears.  It is a kind of water pressure/displacement system.  There are waste baskets to throw out toilet paper, but you have to bring in your own to use.  Luckily packets of tissue are in great abundance around here.

As I said about rushing off elsewhere...this post is probably very haphazard because I have been whisked off to several places during its completion.  I do have a Thai bank account now.  Many thanks to my host for helping with that.  Apparently I require a local account in order to be paid - through direct deposit.  We are paid monthly, and we are paid quite a bit more than my initial estimates - somewhere the numbers or my calculations were off.  I certainly don't mind making more than twice what I thought I was going to make.

I feel as though I have missed recording some other details from the past 24 hours, but I have been rushed around everywhere.  It is difficult to get it down.  Though I suppose I don't need to record all of my observations at once.  I will get some posts covering the food soon.  Also to follow will be posts on my students' knick names, a few gems from their get to know you writing and perhaps some politics.

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