Sunday, September 18, 2011

Musings from Sept 17th

Finally, sweet, sweet freedom! As of...10:27 PM on this Saturday night, I have finished my lesson planning. For tomorrow.

I think things are getting better now. Of course, they first got a little worse but hang in there, not despair! Upon entering my apartment last night, I found myself confined to the dimly lit, lace curtained sitting room (my bedroom) because the light bulb in the other room (the kitchen / my work area) was out. It was too late to buy a new bulb at that dark hour so I slunk around in the sitting room for a while and sulked, and then opened a box of Crimean wine I had bought for such an occasion. Sadly, it was less than stellar wine. Pretty unpalatable, really, but desperate times...

[On a random note, in Alaska almost every Russian/Ukrainian I knew had lace curtains. I used to snicker at that- seriously, lace curtains, what's the point? You can see through them! And tonight, while gazing at the scenery around my concrete apartment building (ie, a couple other big concrete buildings), I saw lace curtains in EVERY window!! I could see people inside their apartments, TVs flickering, etc. Wow, how crazy! I must be missing something, there must be some advantage to lace curtains. By now I've learned that if everyone does the same thing, there's sometimes a good reason...but what is it?
But these curtains of mine are better than mere lace curtains. Mine additionally have oval holes (a pattern) cut in them, just in case the lace wasn't see-through enough! Please explain that to me, someone. Where do Ukrainians get dressed if all the rooms have lace curtains?]

This morning I woke up resolved to get all my lesson planning done for the week. As of this moment, I am scheduled to teach 16 lessons, possibly 17, a week. I thought- if I can get it all done today, life won't be so bad at all! In reality, those lessons equate to 8 lesson plans, because some of those classes I just teach again to a different group. I guess 8 is still a lot of plans, because I only got 3 done and I worked at it most of the day.

This school has a neat system of organizing lessons for teachers. I'm really pleased with that and because of it, it doesn't take too long to plan your lessons (once you get the hang of it). Those who have been here a while hardly even plan anything anymore, because they've already taught the lessons several times. What crippled me was getting hit with this TOEFL course the day before it began, and not getting the class material until 5 minutes before the second class. I just realized today that I should have assigned the first 24 pages of the book as homework. 24 PAGES as the first homework assignment!

I don't have an answer key to the material yet, so beware students, I AM THE ANSWER KEY, hahaha! Seriously, here's some examples from Lesson 1 so you can understand my hesitation with this material:
  • At the age of 19, Galileo discovered isochronism- the principle in which each oscillation of a pendulum takes the same time despite changes in amplitude.
  • Hypoxia is an illness caused by a deficiency of oxygen in the tissues of the body.
  • Although small-claims courts use very simplified procedures, a person unfamiliar with law may need some advice with a complicated case.
I had to do the 24 pages too, since I am supposed to have the “right” answers for the students, and it took me bloody 90 minutes just to get through the homework myself. It was like taking the SAT again, but worse!

Why I think things will get better now:
  • thank you to everyone here in Ukraine who contacted me today (for example, my readers H, Cowboy, Joyce, Lena, & Timur). You guys really helped me get thru this day : )
  • I talked to the school director a couple of times today and she was pretty nice. I told her that this schedule was too intense to accommodate the regular classes, TOEFL, and corporate classes and she said we'd try to work something out tomorrow. That's good, because I'm kind of shocked they tried to do this. Why not give one of the old-timers the TOEFL?
  • Once I can get through tomorrow and Monday's TOEFL classes, I'll have a chance to actually look at the material and be better prepared. Unfortunately, students judge you right away and if you don't make a good first impression, you have to spend the rest of the semester trying to make up for it (and usually you can't). But oh well- I know I'm strong in my other classes.

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