Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Week of Too Much

Ugh. It's just been one of those weeks. Have you been having one too?

Pull up a chair- let me tell you the story.

Last week one of our new teachers pulled a runner. Here one day, gone the next. The rest of the team has hustled together admirably and divided up the abandoned classes. I've undoubtedly got the smallest load but it's forced me back into a субботник of sorts, except with pay and without any manual labor. Well, it was a glorious year off, at least.
Because I'll soon be parting ways with the school (temporarily? permanently?), there is a lot of pressure to line up a new game plan. I've been accumulating options for the past two months, which means a greatly increased work load. Perhaps it would have been better to not go this route, to instead just gently finish the semester and then began scouring March for opportunities.
This whole week was a dance that started off on the wrong foot and kept missing the beat.

Classes on Sunday, which ended on a low note. Tired students.
Monday meant buckling down and preparing for the seven hours of classes to come on Tuesday. I usually prepare lesson plans in one massive burst to free myself of it later on... except circumstance and energy level dictated otherwise this week. In cases like this, lesson planning becomes a slow drain, a vampire that slowly bleeds me into oblivion. Finished the planning that evening just in time for a phone call scheduled with a businesswoman in New York, but our call got rescheduled for Wednesday.
Tuesday came and although an ill coworker asked me to cover her last class of the day, after work I had to head straight back home to confirm receipt of / immediately start work on a new proofreading project. Overall, this project was easier than the previous one (even including the staying up until the wee hours of the morning, reading over 50 pages on the ignition propensity of cigarettes :p ).
Wednesday, pretty tired from the night before. Had to cancel on Scrabble despite my eagerness to share a real fruitcake from America (care package!) with Ukrainian friends. My coworker was still ill and asked me to take her classes that night. The boss called with the same request, but I was furiously planning- and then leading- discussions elsewhere on "Social Conflict", "Codes of Conduct and Manners", and comparative degrees. After arriving home that night, it was another game of phone tag with New York.
Thursday, can't even remember. Oh, yes. Planning for that day's classes. It was Valentine's Day but I didn't have the energy to go buy candy for my students or to trudge off to the copy shop, so we ended up doing a speed dating activity. My first class that night was observed by our teacher trainer; she kindly let the speed dating warm-up slide by without a comment.
school poster at work: 14 February, Class 10B
On a brighter note, classes have been going well this semester. I'm teaching my level- is that a real word? I've taught this particular level at least 6 times before and it's always been terrible. Even with the brightest, most energetic students, it's like putting fish in a barrel, shocking them with a live wire, and then trying to teach the stunned fish to wear pants. It's a disaster. And the funny thing is- every single time the semester finishes, I think "Oh, next time I'll do it better! Next time it'll be great! Everyone will sing and laugh and learn the third conditional and end world hunger!" This time, while we may not have ended world hunger yet, the classes have actually been more enjoyable for everyone. What am I doing differently? I stopped trying to cram 57 different grammatical points down their throats per lesson (like the teaching guide advises) and am finding that slower, more thorough lessons = happier students and teacher.
new Valentine's Day candleholders
As for the romance of Valentine's Day? D surprised me with a beautiful basket of flowers. I cooked him dinner (orzo, capers, balsamic vinegar + bread bowl) and we watched half of Skyfall together. (Oh, Javier Bardem, what have they done to your hair?!)
Friday followed the same pattern: get up, plan the lesson, finally give in and trudge down to the copy shop, pick up V-day candy at the grocery store, come home, spend 10 minutes inhaling a bowl of pelmeni, and hop on the metro. To be honest, we did have a great class that night!
Russia-Ukraine friendship square
When I got home, the New York phone call was postponed again so D and I grabbed dinner at Mafia. Mafia is a popular Italian/Japanese restaurant chain with a glamorous feel: chandeliers, free shots of fancy liqueur, plush velvet booths. The night was both good: we entered a kissing contest (V-day promotion), and bad: got cheated on the bill?
Серп и Молот Стадион
And today I woke up feeling the weight of the week on my shoulders. The only solution- go for a walk before grocery shopping and (surprise, surprise) lesson planning for tomorrow. We started at Plosha Povstaniya and traipsed down the busy Moskovski Prospekt, past the Серп и Молот Стадион (Hammer & Sickle Stadium), squeezing alongside women pushing bundled-up babies in strollers which looked more like moon buggies than a terrestrial device. All this time D was telling a long story: "virtual machines", "repositories", "scrum"... for a while I wasn't sure if he was talking dirty to me or telling me about his work, haha :p Anyways, the walk was a nice break and provided most of the photos you see in this entry.
Now I feel like a rock star just for having survived the week... except that another week begins in three hours. Eek! While I love teaching, this feels like an overdose of it.


  1. "сквер"? That's the first time I've seen that transliterated.

    My schedule's pretty insane these days, too. (Which is of course why I am currently reading and commenting on blogs right now, instead of working on that paper I need to finish...)

    1. Yes, your schedule is pretty intimidating! I'd thought about going in for a similar master's degree but .... not so sure on that now :p Anyways, I'm honored that you're here reading instead of finishing that paper : )

  2. This may be an odd question, but do you have a recipe for the orzo dish? It looks like you may have some raisins and cucumbers in there with the capers... I'd love to try it!

    1. Hi Christine! It was a spur-of-the-moment dish, no recipe. As far as I recall... just orzo, raisins, cucumber, and capers, doused in balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with lemon juice. The taste was good but it was almost like something was missing to make it a masterpiece. If you try the dish and and make any improvements on it, drop me a line! : )