Thursday, September 22, 2011

Settling in, a teaching post

Belle & Alanna
in their school uniform

Why I'm loving Skype right now
This was my second week of school with my students. Thanks to the help of other LT's I was able to learn the themes I need to be teaching to my sophomore and junior students. I'm finding the biggest resource I can turn to are my fellow LT's.  These people understand the complexity that accompanies teaching across the world and a foreign language, in an environment that is not always as supportive as one would expect or hope for.  I am so grateful for this community that exists with my fellow expats.  Today, my principal sent Ashaunda and me to visit another school to see what other Cycle 3 LT's are doing.  The teachers were so helpful and I know they will continue to be a great resource for us.  I am so glad that our principal sees the value in sharing experiences and meeting colleagues. 

I have two classes that I meet with twice each day. Teaching at an all girls' school is different in many ways from my previous teaching experiences, and I am not complaining.  The girls are very social, play a lot with their sheilas (the veil that covers their hair), and like to have fun, but at the same time, they work very well in groups, are extraordinarily helpful to one another, and sincerely want the teacher to like them and be thought of well by the teacher. When students need correction, they listen, and frequently stop by later to apologize for any poor choices.  As I trek through the school with my wheeled carry-on bag, I receive multiple offers to carry my bag by these girls, even ones that are not in my class. They are patient with me as I become more familiar with their names, and one class noted that I do not have the best relationship with pronouncing "r"s. I blame growing up in New England for this - but it reminds me of the importance of paying attention to ALL the words I am speaking because they are constantly learning.

It is nice to not have to spend time thinking about enforcing a dress code. The students wear uniforms. KG girls wear sweet little pink dresses, and the Cycle 1 girls wear grey jumpers (long dresses) with pink blouses and collars. Cycle 2 and 3 girls wear long blue jumpers and white blouses, with white or black sheilas.  The girls are not supposed to wear makeup, although I believe kohl is allowed due to their cultural heritage.  This makes it easy to focus on their learning. We start the day with a morning assembly, where the girls sing their national anthem, recite their pledge and do the holy Quran.  It is a beautiful way to start the day, and also allows all the girls to be viewed by the entire faculty and school administration. Conversely though, there is a dress code that I need to follow: dresses & skirts should reach to the top of my feet (floor is ideal), and sleeves to my wrist bones.  This can be difficult to get used to in the heat, but I am adjusting...

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