A Whirl Wind of a Month

Since my last update, there has been a lot that’s happened here. Due to the problems involving my school and the government there have been many unfavorable changes at my school and many others. Because of these problems way too many of our beloved teachers had to leave. We are all trying to wrap our heads around this surreal situation. One day they were here teaching with us, the next they weren’t even allowed to come to the school. Even though we are all still trying to figure this stuff out, fewer teachers means an obvious change in our schedules. Out of the five English kindergarten teachers there are only two of the original including myself and a third who used to be a coordinator. Actually, if you think about it, I am the only original left since the other girl has only been working with us in January. Aside from that, our schedules have been completely switched around. I used to teach 6B, 6D, and have a shared class with 5C. Now, I don’t have my 5 year olds at all, and I have lost 6D. I have added on 6A and 6C. These two classes are drastically different from what I’ve had to teach all year. Keep in mind that 6B and 6D have only had me as their English teacher all year. For 6A and 6C I am their fourth English teacher. They both have severe behavioral problems (6C being the one that is going to give me white hair). I have to go into those classes prepared for the worst, and I never know how I am going to come out. I know all of their names, and the kids somewhat know me, but they’re not used to behaving. For the most part, I have gotten 6B and 6D to behave and respect me. 6A and 6C don’t really know what that is. Luckily, I still have 6B who I’ve always considered my angel class. It is interesting noticing the differences in the dynamics of the classes and even how much English the class as a whole knows. Basic stuff that 6B and 6D know, these classes have no clue about. I used to be able to have conversations with 6B and 6D, but I can’t at all with these two classes. So, I am essentially starting from the beginning with these two classes as their fourth English teacher at the end of the year. One thing that boosted my teaching esteem was when the teacher who now has 6D told me that she loves them because they know so much English. That made me smile. And to think that I used to consider 6D my devil class! They don’t even compare to the new ones I have. I will try to do my best with these classes. I do want them to know what the other classes know, and there are a select few students in each class that really do want to learn and know a decent amount of English. The sad part, though, is that even these students who are smart and want to learn don’t listen that well simply because they haven’t had a stable teaching environment throughout the year. Well, I will have an interesting month and a half left with them. Let’s see what I can do even though the month of May and certainly June are known as the all fun and no work months in the school world.

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Noticing.

I’ve been noticing some things about my children. For one, they’ve certainly aged over the two week winter break. It’s bittersweet. I don’t want them to grow up! I was skimming through some pictures I have of them from the beginning of the year and the ones from now, and the changes may not be noticeable to someone who doesn’t know them, but to me? Wow! They’re losing their baby fat, becoming more like little adults…It is strange to watch them grow up. During lunch the other day, some of the “big kids” came over to say hi to their brothers/sisters and some of the teachers. They looked so grownup even though they were probably only ten years old at most. A bunch of them hugged one of our English teachers because they had had her just three years ago. Then I started thinking about my little ones and how much they are going to change in just a couple of years. I confess, I did get a little teary eyed.

I’ve also noticed that some of them are really starting to understand more. They may have forgotten some vocabulary over winter break, but, in general, they are starting to understand more of what I am saying. For example, the other day we were playing Pictionary with the SmartBoard to review our animals. Whoever guessed the animal got to come to the board to draw. One of my children had already had his turn at the board, so I looked at him and said (with gestures as well) that he had already gone so if he could pick someone else to go instead it would be really nice. At first I didn’t know if he had understood because some of the other students had distracted me, but less than a minute later I felt a tug at my sleeve. He told me to, “Come,” and then proceeded to whisper into my ear the name of the child that he had picked to go instead of him! I was so proud of him. Not only did he understand, but he also was not selfish about keeping his turn.

As much as some of these children can drive me crazy, they also melt my heart everyday. The other day, when it was time to go home, the children would not let me leave. The circled around me, each one grabbing onto and hugging a different part of me. “Teacher, no goodbye!” Then one of my little cherub faces held my hand an wouldn’t let go until he was distracted. This has been happening a lot more lately. I certainly don’t mind it. It makes my day for sure. If there is one thing that I love about teaching in Turkey, it’s that unlike in the States, the children are allowed to hug and kiss you and you can reciprocate the actions as well. No one will call you out for it saying that you shouldn’t do that. In fact, it’s encouraged. Love, love, love and more love.

Speaking of love and noticing, I’ve found my nurturing personality to have really come in handy. My one student, who had been transferred from another school because his behavior was so bad and violent and been making improvements; well, at least he has in my classes. I decided that when he came, what he did not need was another person yelling at him. He needed and needs someone to give him a little extra attention and love. I can be firm with him, but I will not yell at him because I honestly believe that’s the only way he has ever heard his name. He’s obviously a hyperactive child who needs a different kind of care than the other children. This is something that the other Turkish teachers do not seem to realize. I constantly hear him getting yelled at or I see him sitting in the hall while the other children are playing in the play room. Now, yes, sometimes his actions do necessitate a consequence, but I also have noticed that a lot of the time he is unfairly blamed for things or they yell at him because even though there are other children out of their seats, he’s the problem child so they’ll automatically yell at him. I’ve seen this happen in my own class (the assistant teachers are sometimes in our classes during our lessons). I made sure at the end of that lesson to point out to the teacher that he had been good and that there was no need for punishment of any kind. It may take more than once, but eventually, he’ll listen to me. He’s no longer violent in my classes and, in fact, has started to randomly hug me. I can tell it’s not something that he is used to doing because of the way he does it, but it’s a start. Sometimes, in order to do his work, he also needs a little push. I’ll sit down next to him and start working on the project with him or I’ll tell him what needs to be done. More often than not, he’ll end up doing the work. He just needs some extra motivation.

So much love!

These past few weeks have been going really well at the school. I know I’m going to jinx myself by saying this though. For the most part the children have been very cooperative, and even…dare I say… somewhat respectful. They’ve also started to randomly run up to me in the hall, or shout, “Angela Teacher! Angela Teacher!” every time they see me and will not stop until I acknowledge and/or talk to them. I love them so much. I cannot describe to you how it makes me feel. Unless you teach children, I don’t think you’d be able to understand. The closest similar situation I can think of would be being tackled by a bunch of puppies. In a way, I feel it’s even more special because of the language barrier that there is. I can tell they’re learning more and more every day.

Break through! This week we were learning about germs and hygiene, and I thought to myself that this might be a bit difficult to do, but to my surprise, it’s gone over really well! The first day we started talking about it, I played a short video with a lot of English, but they seemed to get the general idea. They even kept going on about it in the little English that they knew. They were all very eager to try and say stuff. There was a lot of miming going on. And I found myself having conversations with them.

“Teacher! Germ..mmm…germ small small small!” 
“Teacher! Germs…germs is…mmm no..is bleh!” – Me: “Germs are bad?” – “Yes! Bad!”
“Teacher! Mommy doctor-doctor! Mommy *points to teeth*doctor-doctor.”
“Teacher! Me mommy doctor-doctor! *Achoo* doctor-doctor.”
“Teacher! Toilet..wash your hands!”
“Teacher! Germs *uses arms to show the whole room.*” – Me: “Germs are everywhere?” – “Yes teacher! *mimes cleaning the table*”

Now imagine these little phrases with the most adorable accents.

This week went pretty well. We did some crafts to go along with the germs and  hygiene. Germy hands, followed by wash your hands, and finished up with sparkling clean hands.

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Also, I started Turkish lessons about a month ago (they’re only once a week), and I and his family can already see huge improvements in my understanding of the language. The Turkish teachers at school can see it as well. It’s hard, but I’m trying. I wish I had lessons everyday, but this once a week is better than nothing. Having actual instruction is the only way for my brain to learn the language, because that’s how my brain has been hard wired. It’s a pain, but living in a house where only Turkish is spoken helps (and at the same time can be super stressful). I really just need to start memorizing more vocabulary. I cannot wait until we start learning more about sentence structure and verb conjugations.

I’ll try to update more regularly! I’ve just been really busy as of late. The big thing though right now is that my students haven’t been stressing me out as much as they used to, and I love it and them. They’re all way too cute for their own good.

Week 2

So far, this week has been quite lackluster. We came in on Monday expecting there to be students in the kindergarten school, but there weren’t. When we asked where they were our coordinator seemed just as confused as we were, and the response that we got was a confused shrug and an, “I don’t know. Maybe on Thursday they’ll come in to meet some teachers.” Well, it is now Friday and we have yet to meet or observe any of our students. We did, at least, learn what years and classes we would be teaching. I have the pleasure of teaching classes 6B, 6D, and shared lessons for 5C. This means that I will have two six year old classes and one five year old class. In reality though, I will be with five and four year olds because they are all about a year younger than they say they are. The shared lesson should be interesting. During a shared lesson, the Turkish teacher and the English teacher come together to create a combined lesson; it’s usually done with a story but in the case of the five year olds’ class it’ll probably be arts and crafts of sorts. For example, if there is a book that we want to read to the children, the Turkish teacher will introduce what the book is about to the children (not tell the story in Turkish) then the English teacher would read the book to the students, and then, finally, the Turkish teacher would finish up the lesson by asking the students about the book and such. Seems like a neat idea, right? Well, we shall see. Apparently, last year, there were a lot of complaints about the shared lessons because the Turkish teachers just saw it as a time that they didn’t have to do anything, and, at times, they wouldn’t even show up to the shared lessons. I’m hoping it won’t be like that this year. 
I’ll have twenty-six teaching hours (an hour over the twenty-five I should have which means I’ll get paid a little extra yippieeee!!!) this term: eleven hours with 6B, eleven hours with 6D, and four hours with 5C. We have been told that we will start our actual observations next week Monday thru Wednesday and then we will start our lessons on Thursday and Friday. I am interested to see how this actually pans out. Not going to lie, I am a bit nervous to start teaching since I’ve never done it before. At least the classes aren’t too large. Both of my six year old classes have four girls and eight boys. Hopefully, I’ll be able to handle that many boys. Crossing my fingers that they’ll all be little angels but who am I kidding? I should prepare myself for thirty-two crazy, little devils!