There is so much to write and yet I don't really know where I want to begin. Teaching here is pretty crazy. I should probably censor what I write, because there are no guarantees that I won't have a student from the school read my blog. I teach four classes and I actually like my schedule. I have three 45 minute prep times each day, which is nice. I feel like I need it and everyday I feel so bad because I know the English teacher is teaching five preps and she is just as overwhelmed as I am. I guess I am expected to put another class into my schedule, but it is one thing to teach five classes a day and it is another when they are five different classes. I had it so easy before, with six classes in one prep. Now I am trying to prepare for four different courses and the only one that I really know about is the eighth grade group whom are learning US history. Thankfully I have taught that before, but I do not have any of those resources here with me to even help me...so it is all from scratch except the stuff that I remember in my head. And they are a bunch of trouble maker boys. Most days they are good, but sometimes they seem to have evil intentions.
I also teach a small 7th grade class of mostly boys. There are eight boys and one girl. One of the boys does not even speak a lick of English. How I am supposed to reach him when all the others are basically speaking and understanding at about a fifth grade level is beyond me. He needs ESL 101. How am I supposed to teach him about the fall of the Roman empire when he does not even know what the word door means, or teacher, or homework? So this is a bit of a challenge. And the rest of the boys do not know how to keep their hands to themselves. They take each other things and constantly goof off. I am at a point where I am going to be sending them out of class, because I am tired on it. Oh, and I don't even know what part of history I am teaching them...World History from 475 to 1600. That's a lot to cover...great!
My sixth grade class is Ancient civilizations and it is my largest class of 13 students. Seriously, the sizes might be small, but Albanian Kosovars are talkative by nature and half the time they speak in Albanian. I have the issue with the eighth grade students speaking in Albanian, but they are worse and they don't listen to you when they talk in Albanian. Half they time I am sure they are shouting insults at each other (oh, because that is also a class of seven boys and one girl). Okay, back to sixth grade, many of them speak really well, but their writing and comprehension skills are very low. And there are three girls in the room who are trying, but are super weak with their English. Our school should really do something to help these kids, but we do not have an ESL program and although there are English tests they they must take to be in the school, they don't follow those because the owner of the school wants to get more money and more enrollment means more money.
Then there is my fifth grade class. It is amazing how much students develop between the fifth and sixth grade year, because they move through the material so slowly! Most of them have great English skills, but one of the girls is from Germany and does not speak English. She is trying though and because we move so slowly it is easier for her to pick up the information. I am also frustrated with this class because I don't know quite how to teach them. Since it is so slow and simple, I don't always know how to begin. You see, I don't really teach a topic. I am covering an introduction to geography, history, and economics. So right now I am kind of teaching them about maps and continents and how to read maps. And they daydream all the time. It is hard to get them focused and they do not know how to be quiet. They may not talk, but then they will sing, or hum, or breath heavy!
Not to mention you have the normal frustrations of students who forget to do their homework and always want to go to the bathroom, or forgot something in their locker. Plus, I feel like a different picture was painted in my interview. I thought the owner of the school was doing a good thing when he put this school together, but he is such a selfish man. He really only put the school together, because it would look good for his image. His image is everything to him. So although in some ways he seems like a good business man he was just lucky to be born into money. He sucks at leading people and does not delegate well. I was told that he ran out of money last year...yikes! The principals had to convince him to give them budgets so they could put things together for the school. There is so much we are lacking, especially textbooks, a library, and technology. I could go on about some of the things that I don't like about him...so much for censoring myself.
What makes the school good are the teachers. Most teachers are putting their all into what they teach and I can promise you that is why the students stay here. And from what I hear we are ten times better than in public schools, but still, there are no policies in place. How do I take attendance...no one told me. What is the policy during lunch, in the hallways, can they leave my room for the bathroom, what about wearing a hat, is their a bell schedule (there is but no bells)? There is no structure, and though I am trying to understand why the principal who has been here for a year has not put more in place I also know that his hands are tied in many ways because the owner has too much control. Oh, and where does all the money go? I would love to know how much he keeps and how much he puts back into the school...
Okay, so enough. The good things. I like that I am being challenged and I like the schedule that I have. I love that I am able to travel and most trips mean going to another country. I also love that we have a lot of holidays and that I have no pressure about how I teach. I am able to take my time and I don't worry if it goes over to the next day. Who cares if we get there all the curriculum, if I take my time they will learn it. At the end of the month we have a four day weekend and Joe and I are going to go on our honeymoon. We are planning on going to Slovenia. If all goes well we will be in the most picturesque location with castles and rock climbing. I can't wait. Last weekend we were backpacking in Macedonia and it was crazy but also very fun (that will be my next post) and we will be going back this next weekend to climb and shop (I need shoes and sweaters). It is getting cold here too...something happened over the weekend and I feel like we skipped fall and went straight to winter, with no heat in my classroom. So that should cover it for a while and hopefully I update with pictures or Lake Matka...a beautiful part of Macedonia.