Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho, It's Off to Work I Go...

I got through the first week of work! I'm exhausted (maybe it's not so bad that discipline today meant staying home...) but fine. It was simply too much having all the hullaballoo about each girl's first day of school, Katya's birthday (baking and decorating the cupcakes, preparing to lead her class in parachute games as the entertainment, preparing the goody bags for all the kids, getting her gifts together), a marathon two and a half hour parents' meeting on Thursday night, and getting used to a new nanny in addition to my new full-time job

In any case, so far, so good. I was originally going to be teaching tenth grade French in addition to ninth, tenth and eleventh grade English (11th graders are seniors in Russia); I'm rather relieved that the school's directors thought the French section might be bit much with the heavy English load and that they assigned it to another teacher. 

The classes are interesting; I'm basically teaching sociology/psychology/American culture in English. The obvious goal of the classes is to prepare the students for the rigorous Russian National English Exam and the Cambridge (international English certificate) Exams, but another goal that is just as important to the school is that the students learn about American culture. They hope that the students will learn about the American concept of tolerance, of respecting cultural variety, and that their understanding of their own Russian culture will be richer for having approached it comparatively.  Should make for some good blogging.

I kept being warned about possible behavioral problems (lack of respect in class, etc.), but frankly, I've seen much worse... The longer I parent kids with difficult behavior, the stronger I become as a disciplinarian in the classroom. (Heck, all of this difficulty at home has to be good for something other than gray hairs!). I sincerely enjoyed myself this week. I like the kids and I really like and respect my colleagues. It's great to be part of a school with such high professional standards again. The school I taught at last year was very good, too; it was just so small that I was on my own professionally (I was the only French and Spanish teacher). Here I'm part of a strong department and we work together all the time; I really like that. It makes me a better teacher, particularly in this context--teaching in a culture that's not my own in a school where the lingua franca is Russian, and teaching a subject I've never taught before.

I'm taking it one day at a time... It'll probably be another two weeks before I truly have a sense of what my workload will be. The daily schedules have been changed for various assessment tests, assemblies, etc., so I won't teach my "actual set schedule" until the third week of school--when my afterschool commitment of running the drama club in English (one day per week) will also begin. 

I hope I'll be able to make it to the gym a few times a week after work and that I won't be too tired at night to get my class preparations done (and a little blogging!) after putting on my "Mom cap" every evening.


Annie said...

It sounds like an absolutely wonderful topic-cluster (is that a term?) to teach. I am envious. Oh, so envious.

garnet said...

Enjoy your new job. I think they would be fascinating classes to teach. I always loved best teaching English as a foreign language rather than native.

Is this the same school as Katya's? I was thinking it was, but now I'm thinking I may have misunderstood based on what you said about the opening day.