Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Yesterday was rather anti-climatic in terms of teaching. In other ways it was incredibly exciting, sure- the 37 bouquets of flowers and feeling my heart fall out of my chest after being asked to speak in front of so many people. But as far as actual teaching goes, there was none of it. And so I said that I began my life as a teacher yesterday- but I didn't really.

That realization came last night. I had prepped an opening lesson for the little guys, having NO idea if they had any background with English, or the alphabet- and also, not knowing if they knew everything already. (In this sense, I miss the States. I miss knowing what is standard and normal and can be expected in each grade...) Regardless, I was laying in bed after talking to someone and it just HIT me.

I was happy and bright and fresh this morning when I arrived at school. I found the rooms for all of my classes and watched the little people swarm into the building with their parents. This is one thing that just crosses cultures the world over. The excitement and chaos of the school year, regardless of classroom set up or language or subject or age. I could stand in the office and know EXACTLY what was going on without speaking even a bit of the language. And I learned three things this morning.

1. First graders will always have the ability to caputre my heart. My first little bunch of the morning, and these kids were adorable. Like, totally beautiful and wonderful and simply fantastic. We started with introductions: "My name is Stephanie. What is your name?" "MY NAME IS ERVIN!" "Hi, Ervin!" "HI, STEPHANIE." (He is going to be one of my favorites, I can tell already. It was like the reverse of the stereotypical "speak loud and slow to someone who doesn't know the language" thing. Ervin speaks louder when he DOESN'T know the language, and it is utterly adorable.) Moving on, we did a lot of different alphabet activities, and I was really pleased that many of them had a grasp on the alphabet already. We sang the song and danced a dance (okay, a lot of dances!) and did a letter hunt and alphabet tracking to find letters... it was ridiculous how awesome it was. They responded well and I just turned ON the silly and we giggled and learned and it was beautiful. Skip ahead two classes and I'm in another first grade room. Same thing, friends. I walked away from the day feeling just wonderfully blessed to have the opportunity to teach SIX of these classes each week.

2. Second grade might be my downfall. I KNOW that it could have been just two crazy classes, but it was rough. It didn't help that these kids knew kind of a lot. I mean, I changed the activity up right away when I saw how much they knew. I guess I was just expecting to be able to charm them a whole lot better, but they weren't having it. Man, oh man... it was rough. I kept reminding myself that I would have had that classroom in SHAPE, if only I could speak the language. It just isn't as effective when you bend down low to a kid and get in their face and you can't just say "CUT IT OUT." However, I never got to the point where it just felt completely out of control, but they were talkers, for sure. I'm going to need to come up with a LOT for this age group- it will help when the textbooks arrive in like, you know, 3 months. The one highlight was during the introduction part of the third class (the second group of second graders)... one boy opened his mouth and in a perfect English accent said "I am Matt." My heart literally leaped in my chest, and I leaned in close and whispered to him "You are I are going to be very good friends." And no joke- he responded "You're going to need it." Sweet!

3. Teachers must supply their own toilet paper. I'll spare you all of the, ahem, details. Let me just say that there is a very lovely teacher's toilet on the first floor, which happened to be the location of my last class for the day. And I will also let you know this: something here in Romania (I suspect the water, because this is the only thing I consume on a regular basis) is having a bit of a battle with my digestive system. Thank goodness I brought a pack of kleenex in my bag this morning, but it really was too bad that I left it outside the stall.

I'll leave you, my friends, with THAT mental image.

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