So sorry for the delayed update, things have been going so well over here and I haven’t had much time to unpack (literally and figuratively).
I have successfully finished my first week of teaching! Whew! My school is, well, interesting. It’s a large block plopped in the middle of a neighborhood that is about a ten minute bus ride from my house. The school is large—the teachers don’t know how many students are in the school (?) but it seems to be quite large. The classrooms are relatively well equipped—some better than others. All have desks and chairs, and most have blackboards. All the walls are covered in grafitti, some more graphic than others—I would imagine its quite distracting, and the school is equipped with some lovely squatter toilets (more on that to come…)
I teach every grade (yep….) and am teaching about 23 classes per week. I work with five other English teachers of varying abilities (both in terms of their English speaking and their overall teaching effectiveness), but all of them are very sweet and have made me feel loved and appreciated at school. I teach with all of them at some point during the week…and I have some more classes with some than others.
My kids are overall pretty wonderful. In every class there is, per usual, several students of clearly higher abilities and to counteract those kids, the trouble kids who never bring their books and who throw spitballs in the class. This is to be expected, naturally, but it is definitely frustrating when trying to teach a class of such mixed levels. I have three favorite classes: my third grade class, my 11th grade class (all girls…talk about angelic), and one of my eighth grade classes.
The third grade kids are totally out of control, speak little to no English, have the attention span of goldfish, but they are so absolutely adorable. One kid is so small he actually managed to lodge his legs in his desk and then lost his balance and fell out of his desk during the ABC’s. I almost died laughing. The have barely learned the alphabet and don’t know any verbs besides “to be”—and even that is rocky. Thus, whenever we talk about family, they say “I am one brother” and “you are one sister?” and then my co-teacher yells at them in Georgian to pay attention. It’s totally out of control and hysterical.
My 11th grade girls are lovely and so driven to learn English. They ask me to take pictures with them and go to McDonalds to hang out (to which I scrunch my face and tell them that in
, a lot of people don’t like mcdonalds, or fast food in general). They are so sweet and I feel like I might actually make a difference with them. America
My eighth grade class is enormous and half out of control. The back of the classroom doesn’t give a damn, and they just sit there—but I manage to get their attention sometimes, and I always have the attention of the front 2/3 of the class, including my favorite student who resembles a caterpillar with his unibrow. He speaks horrible English and always talks excitedly to me in Georgian---and he tries to hard in class. He always raises his hand and wants to participate, but he makes so many mistakes and more often than not is never even on the right page, or he repeats the answer that the person before him said. But he tries and is good and has a unibrow. Gotta love him.
The toilets in school are holes in the floor. It took some getting used to, thats for sure. It turns out I was standing the wrong way for the first two weeks, hence my difficulty using them. My friends died laughing when I told them that I was having such a hard time, and things have been much easier from then on. It still doesn't smell good, but I bring my handy hand sanitizer and have become quite a pro.
One of the most difficult things about school is the lack of resources in the classrooms and amongst the teachers. Some of the classrooms don’t even have blackboards, and so there is no possibility for us teachers to write anything down for the kids to see. Without tracking classes, kids are lumped together by age and not by ability—and it turns out that many kids in my school have transferred from other schools and speak absolutely no English. In my first class this morning, I had a girl who was almost fluent in English, and a boy in the back of the class who couldn’t even introduce himself. It’s very frustrating.
In other news, I went to the Khakheti region (the cradle of Georgian winemaking) this weekend with other TLG teachers. It was raining, but as our hosts said, “no problem.” We drove an hour and a half outside of the city and went to this lovely farm/vineyard for the afternoon where we had a class in making textiles, wine, cha cha (Georgian vodka…oh god is all I have to say about that), taking care of the farm animals, etc….and then of course we had a supra! God, I love this country. It was so beautiful and picturesque working with these Georgian farmers with hands covered in dirt, laughing as we made yarn together. We couldn’t understand each other, but we somehow still did. Pictures to come! Nachvamdis!