08 October 2008

This week, teaching

Oh my nearly sacrosanct Wednesday evenings. Boiled potatoes, red cabbage, beer, and Mad Men.

I'm learning (as I bumble along) of the many special needs that some of my students have. Generally, what happens is that I recognize some sort of pattern of behavior, then talk to my special needs coordinator colleagues, who say something like, "Wow, good for you that you noticed that, that's the sign of a good teacher." At which point I respond with something like, "that's nice, now what do I do?" I think most of the big things I need to know about I know about now, but I'm starting to get concerned because we're already more than a month into the school year and time's a wastin'.

The crew (I generally call my classes my crews, and start class with "Righto, crew." Every foreign language teacher I've ever had has had a signature starting line, and this is mine) I had po škole last week were absolute angels this week -- ideal students if there were such a thing. They participated, they were mostly quiet, and they were really paying attention. The worst offender has apparently found Jesus, because every time he saw me this week he greeted me with the Slovak equivalent of "Slava Isusu Christu" which is a phrase I really have trouble remembering -- the first word is really long and complicated. We'll see how long all of this lasts. While talking about the general phenomenon of their angelicitude with one of my colleagues today, an interesting dialogue happened (in Slovak):
Colleague: Well, it's good that they respect you.
Self: I respect them, too. It's important that we respect each other.
Colleague: And become friends.
Self: Uhm, I'm not really here to be friends with them.
Colleague: (perhaps not understanding my POV) Don't worry, it's still early in the school year.
Self: (blank stare) ?
For real, as much as I know the way I handle my classes is probably completely not like how a lot of their other classes are, it is important to me that there's that mutual respect. I know they're not stupid, and I think they realize that I've got a lot to teach them.

Another interesting thing that another colleague brought up (there's a lot of colleagues -- this one we speak to each other in broken Slovak/broken English, and usually about things that can be vaguely politically related) was how hard it is to be able to support a family now, and in how many families both parents work outside the home, which the teachers can tell in school because of how the kids act.

Now, if I may tend towards the slightly ribald for the rest of this post:
This weekend the general buzz throughout all of Slovakia surrounded the presence here of one Pamela Anderson and her sometimes-heaving bosom. After the news on Sunday evening, there is a (rather insipid -- worse than E.T. and Access Hollywood put together) show called "Prominenti" that I think is about famous people. They dedicated the entire show to Pamela on Sunday, because she was here for (judging?) a (pageant?) called Cat Girl 2008. Pamela even gave a very sultry "Ahojte Slovensko" when she came up on stage. My students felt the need to comment on the entire occasion this week - I don't know what could have interested me less.

Quite possibly the funniest moment happened towards the end of my class of currently-angels while I was trying to sum up everything. They were starting to get a bit chatty and restless, and so I began with my (seemingly) constant refrain of "In English!!!!!!!" So one student began: "My neighbor... very bad... (if only you could have seen the look of sincerity on this kid's face) Every night (brings) different girl... and I can't sleep!" As Authority Figure, I thanked my student, finished up class as the bell rang, and saved my chuckles for the walk back to the zborovňa.

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