Friday, October 23, 2009

One month done: I only get eight of these!

And now I've been here a month.

I've started teaching, I have my little apartment, a library card (yeah, I'm on week 4 for this book, don't worry), the grocery store, bakery, and ice-cream stand that I frequent; all of which must mean I'm "settled in"? I don't feel it -- I'm still very much a foreigner. Let's not even get started on my French... I have a cell phone with no credit left and a land line whose number I still haven't memorized. Living abroad is definitely harder this time than last time, for pages and pages of reasons, I suppose. I realize that living five minutes from the Mediterranean in a town that has seen two days of rain in the past month limits my entitlement to complain, though, so I'll try not to wallow.

Teaching is making me think. I have left my classroom smiling most days these past two weeks (today being the exception). I love working with teenagers (god help me), and I love teaching my language. I'm fascinated by the personalities that emerge in the classroom, the things they'll say. I'm fascinated by the students' struggles to express themselves in English. Of course I relate to that experience, since I know all too well the feeling of having an idea and having no idea how to realize it in words (both when speaking French and when speaking English...). And I'm fascinated by the work that I have to do to make myself understood.

I don't remember relating to teenagers when I actually was one, and it's not easier now. I know less about the adolescent world, but on the other hand I come to school each day fully prepared to love each of my students (and I do). I just wish there was some way to reach all of them...

This is what's making me really think about teaching: I love my students, and they absolutely have it in them to speak English. But how to convey that to a whole bunch of kids all at once? and how to give them the opportunity to be successful in English? How to give them the confidence to speak strongly (in English)? Even in a class with just 12 students, there are a few who answer all the questions, a few who talk all the time, but never in English, a few who very politely but desperately tell you they don't understand anything you've said, and a few who slump silently in either boredom or despair. How on earth can I help each of them at the same time?!?!

I don't suppose I could fit the role of idealistic young bleeding-heart liberal rookie teacher any better. Let's hope I never see jaded.

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