09 August 2005

...the best laid plans

Work so far: I arrived Thursday the 4th, with the assumption that I would start working on the 15th. I taught my first class the next morning with a 15 minute heads up. On Saturday, I went into the school to get my schedule. Found out I was starting full time on Monday.

Where are the books?, I asked, Isn’t this the middle of the term? What unit are you on? Where did the last teacher stop and what has he/she covered?
It took awhile, but I left feeling confident that I had the ‘big picture’ and could manage it.

Spent hours on Saturday and Sunday sorting thorough my resources as well as some books at the school so that I would have a bang-up week of really cool classes and not just the dead boring workbooks I’d been issued for class work. I was really proud of all my organized lessons, laid out in neat little piles on my bed. Good thing I didn’t have to teach until Monday evening, because my body still thought I was in California.

“The driver will pick you up at 4:30 for your 5:00 class”, the assistant director told me on Monday.
I thought my class started at 6.
“No, it’s at 5”.

I arrived at the school at 4:45 and verified that my class started at 6. Then I was introduced to another teacher, a lovely Vietnamese woman. She asked,
“Why weren’t you here for your morning class?”
Huh? I pulled out my schedule and showed her what the program coordinator had clearly highlighted: Monday AM; no class. Tuesday AM; class.
“It was your class and there was no one here to teach it”. SHIT! I kept trying, and rightly so, to shift the blame, but I don’t know if they believed me.
However, this teacher was very happy to meet with me. She had waited all Saturday afternoon because she had thought we were going to meet to discuss classes. Double SHIT! I apologized and said I didn’t know that we were supposed to meet.

It was around this time that I realized there were major language comprehension obstacles. This was going to be a challenge.
“We are sharing classes”, the teacher told me. WHAT?
But I have unit 5 all planned for the week, and unit 6 for the other class, and I decided to use this book for the kids since they aren’t using any text.
“But we are on unit 3 and 5. You will do page 14, 15, 16. In the other class you will do page 43, 44, 45. And the kids are on unit 7 for Tuesday’s class and unit 6B for Wednesday’s class”.

I audibly slumped in my chair. I would have to toss all those hours of work. It took another half hour before I could understand what was going on. Nobody seemed to know what anyone else was doing, even though there was a set course outline that nobody seemed to follow.

At least I would have all Tuesday to re-plan.
“I hate to ask you”, said the assistant director, “but another teacher has just called in sick and we need you at the high school tomorrow and Friday”.
This is in addition to all the other high school classes I teach.

I forgot to mention that the electricity was out most of Monday, which meant no fan, no computer, etc. It came back on at 3pm.I got back from work by 8pm and switched on my ceiling lights which promptly blew out. I spent an hour emailing with a flashlight, then gave up and tried to sleep. Up again a 5 with the flashlight email, but at least the sun is bright by 6am.

Tuesday’s high school class went ok. I managed to get drenched walking the 2 blocks from where the driver let me off, to my house. Taught the little ones at 5pm. Cute-as-can-be kids. Got home and still no lights. 8pm the guard from the school came to fix them. Not possible. Too tired to even flashlight email. Went to bed.
Dragged out the door at 6:30 this morning to go to my high school class. Got there/class cancelled/home by 8/next class at 5 this evening.
Oh yeah, that traffic. I’ll tell you about it another day.