30 September 2010
As if 3 English Clubs aren’t enough, I’ve started a 4th one. I mean, I can never be too busy…? (Haha. Yea, ok. Sure. Yesterday that was definitely not the case).
Anyways… I started another English Club. However, it’s not exactly an English Club because it won’t be quite as fun as the other English Clubs I have going. This one is for the big kids who got lost in English classes a long time ago, so now they are absolutely clueless. The best part, however, is that it is optional. Only the “big kids” that want to learn English are supposed to come. Because, let’s be honest here. Most of these kiddos are enrolled in English against their will- it’s required. They have no desire to learn to speak the language. Fine- no worries. I’m not going to make them learn it. After all, I did drop out of Spanish in 10th grade. But I was that student that “got lost to the point of no return”… or at least that’s what I thought. So I want to help those students that got lost a long time ago- but want to graduate knowing something in English so it can maybe (hopefully!) help them in the future.
When I told some of my classes about it they seemed excited. Unfortunately fewer students showed up than I thought, but oh well. There’s always next week.
I began with the verbs “to be” and “to have”. When I told my partner teachers about this they said the kids (8,9,10, 11, 12 grade) should already know this. Yes, yes they should. But the truth is some don’t. We started with that and I was SO excited with their progress! I can’t wait to see where this goes, and I hope next time more kiddos show up.
I was having a discussion with one of my partner teachers today as we were planning for some lessons. I have an idea I’d like to try out by maybe implementing a “test” American grading system… we give grades according to the American system that I know (tests/participation/homework/final exam/projects are all given certain percentages and it’s all recorded instead of just receiving 1 grade out of 10 for everything for the day… or potentially just the week), and we will also give grades according to the Moldovan system. We will record the Moldovan system grades but keep a separate notebook of this new way- just to see how things might be different. While it is all a bit confusing to her, she said she was willing to try. She was also willing to try a game of Jeopardy with the kids for a review session before the test about vocabulary. I told her that I love working with her because she is so willing to try everything- even if she doesn’t completely understand it and even if she doesn’t think it will work. She then said this:
“Everyone dies a little bit when they aren’t willing to change.”
… and she couldn’t be more right. I had to write it down immediately so I wouldn’t forget because it just made so much sense. She also said that although she has been teaching a long time and she has her way of doing things, she is excited to see how things are done from another point of view so that she can maybe use those ideas after I leave. Holy cow. I think I can go back to America now. I’ve completed the mission of being an English Teacher in Moldova.
Oh, wait. I still have to teach her how to do it. I guess I’ll stay a couple more years. ;) Plus, two can play this game.
... looks like we all have a lot to learn from each other!
Last week I began hearing a “scratch scratch” under my bed at night. After hearing it one night, I decided to let it be. Plus, even though it woke me up, I was tired enough that I went right back to sleep. Then he came for a visit 2 more nights- and that’s when I decided to say something to my NMG. As soon as I began to describe the situation she asked if it was a șoarece (mouse). Because I gave her my (rather common) look of, “What did you just say?!”, she said, “Mickey Mouse”. It’s actually become a fun game to try and communicate with each other when I don’t understand what is going on- because she remembers a lot of random words- and their definitions- in English (ie Mickey Mouse, and give me a kiss). I told her yes, I’m pretty sure it is Mickey Mouse under my bed. She said if I heard it again that night that she would let the cat sleep with me the next.
As if Mickey Mouse could tell time, he came back at 9:40 the next night- which was the same time he’d come back the previous nights. Lucky me- I got to sleep with a cat the next night!
While I’m unsure if the cat actually caught Mickey Mouse, I can guarantee that I had a very snuggly ball of fur next to me all night with a purr that was louder- and happier- than the purr of any cat I’ve ever heard before.… and Mickey Mouse has yet to make another appearance (although I do think it was just a fluke that I didn’t hear him last night, but let’s hope the fur ball really did catch him while I was sleeping).
29 September 2010
This is how my conversation went with one of my friends...
ME: ... I'm so frustrated because they aren't putting ANY effort into anything!
ANTOINE: that's the life of teacher: motivate students and make them understand of the interest to learn
ME: ..but how do you do that to a 17 year old who can't do the book work because they don't know the difference in "to be" and "to have"?
ANTOINE: ^^ your job is to find the answer!
Oh. My. Gosh. He's so right. I've been struggling all this time battling with the idea of the educational system... but why? The answer is in my students hands! I can't read their minds and find out why they're not willing to try... the educational system can't make them willing to try. I need to find out how I can motivate them to do well. Assigning good marks isn't going to do it because they aren't going to learn anything that way (unless they are actually doing the work). My new mission? Find out how I can really help them.
26 September 2010
25 September 2010
I do miss the beautiful colors in the leaves from here. Here they are either green or brown. Thankfully the red apples add some color to the bunch :)
Me: There are SO MANY new tv shows out that I really want to watch! They look so good! And so much great music, too...
Bee: Like what?
Me: Oh, there were a few on ABC that I saw... and HBO...
Bee: I think you are feeling deprived. Most previews I've seen are for shows that have been around for a year or two.
I think she's right. :P
But thank goodness for iTunes to keep me caught up!
22 September 2010
Boy do I love this day! It’s in the middle of the week, it means 2 days until I get to see Ross, and it means it is day 3 of English Club (this time with the “middle” kiddos).
The middle kiddos are so fun to work with. They are full of energy, and they can’t wait to learn something new. I enjoy using simple vocabulary with them even though sometimes it is a review. But that’s not the best part.
The best part was when they all left and I said, out loud, without thinking, “I love my job”. The sun is shining, the temperature is perfect for a light long-sleeved shirt, and I had a smile across my face.
Even though I complain about the system of grades, and how much it frustrates me that the kiddos copy their homework from other sources (Internet, other textbooks, friends that are more proficient in English- it’s karma), I truly do love my job. Sure, it’s only been a few weeks but I really can’t imagine not being here in Moldova… with these kids… 5 days a week, 9 months a year.
21 September 2010
You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.
Don’t make money your goal.
Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. Maya Angelou
This is quote I’ve been looking for for a long time- but never actually knew I was looking for it. It’s the reason I applied for the Peace Corps in the first place. One semester before graduating college I realized a high-paying job was not what was going to make me happy in life- following my passion is. Since I was 7 I’ve wanted to be a teacher and now I’m finally doing it... and loving it! (Most of the time)
Being the sole American in a town of 2,200 is definitely making it so “people can’t take their eyes off [me]”.
This morning as I was walking to school I could see a woman quite a ways in front of me walking toward me with a smile on her face. She approached me and just started having a conversation, as if we’d known each other forever. While I honestly can’t tell you her name or if we’ve met before, it was a great feeling. And when walking home from school today I said hello to a group of villagers sitting on a bench- which is usually occupied in the afternoon by these people. I smiled, said, “buna ziua”, and every single person smiled and said it back. At school I have teachers saying, “hello” and, “goodbye” to me. It’s almost as if being an American is contagious- and it’s so fun!
Also, after 3 weeks of trying to figure out one of my students in my 8th form class (the one I teach alone) and how she can learn English the best, today I FINALLY figured it out! We spent the whole class working on vocabulary. It was rather simple, and just a few words, but I wanted to make sure they learn it. We were very active- playing games, repeating, recalling, and… (drum roll please!!!) LEARNING. This one particular student was actually recalling vocabulary words and actions before my two “best” students. I was beyond thrilled and basically jumping out of my seat in excitement! This is another reason why I love my job!!
It’s another absolutely perfect day in Moldova. The sun in shining, it’s about 68 degrees, and, once again, I am so happy and full of energy that it’s absolutely ridiculous. Although I was frustrated with my 8th form kiddos, I taught them YOU ROCK! Today because I was in a good mood, and, well, they deserved it.
But I have some good news and bad news.
Let’s start with the bad news.
I had to give low marks today to my 11th form students. Like I’ve said before (and I feel like I probably say too much!), but I am not particularily fond of the grading system in Moldova. I think if you do the work, you should be rewarded. If not, well, you should somehow be “punished” for it. (Punished is a rather harsh word for what I want to say, but I can’t think of another one at the moment.) Out of 15 students in the 11th form class, only about 5 on average do their homework. Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of that. Every day we tell them to do their homework and they don’t. So, with it being the beginning of the school year (with plenty of time to make up the bad marks), I gave the students a 1 for the day. However, I told them that if they took and initiative to participate in class that day, I would give them a 5 (10 being the highest, and 5 being the lowest that is usually given from teachers in order for the students to look better). Ironically, the student I least expected to participate participated more than ever, so I gave him a 5. The one most likely to participate? Well, he just sat there. Probably mad because I said I would give him a bad mark. Well, his loss. He got a 2. I’m still the nice teacher- I hope- but I’m also not afraid to get things done.
Now the good news (x2)!
I had about 25 “little kids” show up for English Club. They were so excited! ANNNND they participated! They got kind of rowdy toward the end (I see why some teachers don’t have patience for working with the little kids), but that was partly my fault…
Today is Maria’s birthday. I called her this morning and sang, “happy birthday” for a kind of distraction because I had something else up my sleeve. I made her a card and then had as many students at the school as possible sign it. While she is no longer a teacher, everyone knows who she is, and many students still go to her for English tutoring. So, I told the students to meet me at the school after English club and to bring flowers- and we were going to go to her house and sing, “happy birthday”. So, we did just that (the older students were arriving with their flowers which is why the little kiddos got rowdy). We walked there together- all 40 or so of us- and I ran inside to get her. She was hesitant to come out (she had a guest- but don’t worry, she knew I was coming, just not with students). She finally came out and as soon as she came out of the gate, the students started singing and giving her the flowers. It was absolutely wonderful! Then, after the students left, she started crying. Tears of happiness, of course. She said she’s been a teacher for many, many years and produced 58 English teachers in her (now) 68 years of life, and she’s never had a birthday so wonderful as this.
Wonderful people should be rewarded more often. Maria has touched more lives than any other person I know and this just shows she isn’t thanked enough. So, don’t forget to tell those who you appreciate “thank you”. And also don’t forget to tell those you love, “I love you”. Really- those words can never be said enough.
(PS- I appreciate and love you for reading my blog)
16 September 2010
15 September 2010
14 September 2010
12 September 2010
When I walked into my 4th, 10th, and 11th grade classes, they all started singing, "Happy Birthday" to me in English. The 10th and 11th graders gave me cakes and champagne. I received well over 100 flowers from the students in the school- I couldn't even carry all of them with me home because there were so many. I've never felt so appreciated before for something that I am doing. It was such a good feeling to have students that I don't even teach give me flowers and tell me they wish me success and many years of happiness. The best part? I've known them less than 2 weeks!
One of my 10th grade classes
The decorations my 11th grade class did for me on the (non magnetic) chalkboard. They're so sweet!
My 11th grade class
Look at all of the flowers the students got me in my school!! I'm pretty sure I got over 100. I've never felt so appreciated for something that I do before... this is the most rewarding part of teaching.
08 September 2010
06 September 2010
Moldovan referendum appears to flop on low turnout
CHISINAU, Sept 5 | Sun Sep 5, 2010 4:32pm EDT
(Reuters) - A referendum in Moldova to decide on whether to elect the president by popular vote appeared to have failed on Sunday because of a low turnout, according to figures from the Central Election Commission.
Commission secretary Iurie Ciocan told journalists that turnout stood at 29.67 percent, with final figures to come in only from a part of Moldova in the breakaway territory of Transdniestria and from Moldovans working in the West.
Commentators said these were not likely to influence the final turnout enough to bring it close to the 33.34 percent required to make the referendum valid.
The outcome was a blow for the ruling West-leaning Alliance for European Integration, which had pressed for the referendum to help to end political paralysis, and a triumph for the opposition Communists who had called for a boycott of the voting. (Writing by Richard Balmforth; editing by David Stamp)
05 September 2010
Another age appropriate- or maybe culture appropriate?- story comes from 4 girls I met today after returning home from my weekend in Pelinia. There was a 5 year old, and 2nd, 3rd, and 6th graders. We were talking about how long the trip was from Pelinia to here (about an hour, in case you were curious, too) and they asked me how I got from here to there (by rutiera). Then they asked if I got to Moldova from America by a rutiera, and I said, "no, plane". Their response? "Wooooow. Yes, it would be a long trip by bus." Yes, a very long trip and also a very difficult one considering there is an ocean in the way. :)
Mark this down in history!! It was a very weird feeling, but so exciting at the same time. My stepmom and stepsisters would totally laugh at me because they grew up with goats, but I didn't... so this was a first time experience for me.