Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Start - all programs - accessories


The first day of class, according to many, the most important day of the semester. The day when everything and nothing can be assessed. The day where if anything CAN go wrong, it will. Once, someday, I would like to have a first day of class that went perfectly. A teacher's wish perhaps? Maybe such things only happen on paper. But it can be frustrating when things beyond your control conspire to throw a wrench into your plans.

Flashback to Brazil: my first class in the practicum. I nervously walk to class, going over my lesson plan in my head, and arrive at the church to see a number of students standing outside waiting. Waiting for me to open their classroom. The classroom I had no key to. Within minutes a downpour began; a daily-occurring 15-minute monsoon which I was recently learning about. When it rains like that in Brazil, no one goes anywhere until it stops. Including the man with the key to our classroom door. Picture me and 20 Brazilian teenagers huddled together under a thin awning....

Flashback to Yuli: as Hope and I are preparing to go to San Min Junior High for the first time, the unthinkable happens (well, for the optically challenged) - Hope's glasses break! Being severly nearsighted, she is certain she'll be unable to teach without her glasses. I offered to lend her mine (about half the strength), and we both started the semester partially blind and eagerly awaiting the next week when we could actually see what our students looked like!

And this week: it's just been a muddle of confusion as to which room I'm teaching in, which room the students have gone to, who has which key and in which part of the school they are presently located (usually across the campus), and most exciting, a freak power outage of an entire building (but NO other sections of the school), where I ended up teaching a class in the semi-dark with sweat pouring off both me and my students. You'd think it was the first time I'd been to either of these schools, but no, in fact it's the FOURTH semester I'm beginning here in Yilan (including the summer) and still the schools seem to have NO clue about what's going on.

What is one to do? Explode in anger at the poor conditions? Politely but snidely request that NEXT week these situations be taken care of? Teach outside in the blistering afternoon sun? Or, as pop psychology may suggest, just go to my happy place.....

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