20 October 2011

How do you say "teacher"?

This is the first year that the second grade is learning English. Every day they surprise me in just how much they remember and they are quickly becoming one of my favorite classes. They are almost all really hard workers and they are anxious to learn and it’s so cute to hear them in the hallways asking each other, “What is your name?” “How old are you?” “Where are you from?” etc. We’ve taught them a song with different responses to how are you besides the mechanical iamfinethankyouandyou?. They are so stinking cute and I love working with them. Most of the time.

You see, today I worked with them alone because my partner was helping a worker install lights and chandeliers in our classroom (yes, that is correct, we didn’t have light until now… oh the things we take for granted back home!). While I swore to never again teach the 2nd grade alone last year, I was referring to the 2nd grade that is now the 3rd grade… and, like I said, this group of kids is great. But when I entered their room (ours was busy because of the installing of the lights), all hell broke loose! They kids were terrible, they wouldn’t listen to me, they were hitting each other, they were talking out of turn, absolutely chaos. I finally got their attention by beginning to sing the “hello, how are you song” and then having them stand up and do some arm exercises before sitting down. As soon as their little behinds hit their chairs, though, they started hitting each other with rulers, pulling on their desk mate’s ears… it was seriously just like a scene out of a movie. Finally I was able to grab their attention again so I asked them just what it is exactly that makes them behave when my partner and I are teaching, but as soon as she disappears, they misbehave. I expected them to look down at their desks in shame and say they didn’t know… which is a common reaction when you know you’ve done something wrong, right? Well, that is not what happened. Instead a few hands shot straight up into the air. And you know what they said (I love the honesty of little kids)? They said: Mrs. Luminita is older than you. She is our teacher, not you. Oh boy. I have no idea how this is going to be fixed! But I think I have officially decided teaching is not in my future. I thought I had decent classroom management but I have now realized it is not me that is in control of the classrooms… it’s my partner teachers. Today I realized just how thankful I am for them and that they really are good teachers and the students of Varatic are lucky to have them.

Now, even though the 2nd grade was terrible during the actual lesson, one particular student was awesome outside of the lesson. She is my neighbor and comes over every day to sit and talk to me at home (my host mom now calls her and her friend who is not in school yet my “army”). Anyways, we finally got to walk to school together. I was quizzing her on the questions we have learned so far in class, the letters, and the school vocabulary. When I asked her to translate, “invatator sau profesor” she responded not with, “teacher” but instead, “Cate”. They are learning great things! J

On another rough note, though, I had someone in the 6th form drawing swastikas and people hanging and knives and he was writing “canibol” (it’s a cognate… you figure it out). Every time I walked by him I saw he was drawing but didn’t observe what it was until my partner got sick of him drawing and took it away but even she didn’t see it at that time. When I saw what it was, my jaw hit the floor and I’m pretty sure my eyes about popped out of their sockets. I then told her, she scolded the boy and I sure hope made him feel terrible, and then she gave them a history lesson on what happened during WWII to innocent people that were taken as prisoners and forced to work whether they were in the Nazi concentration camps or taken from their homes and placed in Siberia. What happened in Siberia I really don’t know because as far as I know, I was not taught that part of the war in history class (although I, regrettably, did not pay much attention so I may have doodled my way through it). From what she said, though, I have a feeling it was much like it was in the Nazi concentration camps. A lot of the kids didn’t realize that is what happened and that they have relatives or even great grandparents that were there… and once they realized that and it became more real, they quickly stopped talking. I have a feeling that picture will never be drawn again.

And, finally, the 8th grade. They were wonderful today. Yes, you read that correctly. They were wonderful! I don’t think I actually wrote about this on my blog, but two weeks ago I left the room crying because they were SO disrespectful to me and I was supposed to be teaching them alone. Ever since then my partner has been sitting in on the classes just in case they get out of control but they have been pretty good since then. Today, however, they were absolutely fabulous. The previous couple of lessons have been really dry and boring and straight out of the book and involving lots of writing because I was tired of their BS and I wanted to show them what boring classes can-and will- look like if they keep up their nonsense. Well, I guess it worked because today I had very active (but controlled) activities to prepare them for the test they will have for the next lesson. Now, it may have helped that there were only about half of the students, but regardless, they were attentive, active, and participating. I have a feeling (knock on wood) that things are finally going to turn around with them.

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