Monday, September 18, 2006

A Case of the Mondays

The weekend was rainy. Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. All of it. I got out a few times and got wet every time. I'm talking strip-off-the-clothes-and-hand-them-up wet. I slept in so long on Saturday that my teacher's sleeping schedule got thrown off and I couldn't fall to sleep until late Saturday and Sunday night. Which mean that Monday morning came very early.

Despite my grogginess, it was a nice morning today. As I rode to the school on the bus, I noticed how my city had changed slightly from the rain. The rice paddies that line the highway to the school looked a more vibrant green. Also, there were many patches that were flattened--by the rain or the wind I suppose. The spillways that drain the streets and the streams from the mountains were full of water and gushing into the sea. The air was cleaner (almost 50 hours of rainfall will do that you know).

I got off at the correct stop with no incident (small victories). It was mostly downhill from there--including the walk up the hill. The area of Seong Po where the school is located can be described in three levels. The bottom level is the small shipyard and some ports. The second level, higher in elevation, is where most of the town is. A narrow two-lane road winds around the contours of the landscape and through the town. It is a little scary to ride a bus through this area as cars are often parked on the side of the road which forces the bus across the solid line into the oncoming lane of traffic. The third and highest level is where the school is located.

The distance between the first and second levels is filled with small homes, walled gardens and steep concrete paths that connect the levels. The space between second and third levels is much the same except with only to paths. Since there are only a couple homes (as in two) a story and a school up on the hill, so travel up and down is not essential to most. Besides, the school is serviced on the other side by an exit to the highway, so most people take that route as opposed to the footpaths.

The two previous paragraphs are setup for this: I have a heckofa walk up this hill. I think the incline is about 45 degrees. The path is paved in concrete. Now I've been to many seasides in my day and all of the ones with this steep of an incline have had stairs--this is just a long, curvy ramp. So, by the time I get to the top, my calves are mooing, I'm huffing, puffing and sweating. Most of that I'm sure will go away as I walk this hill more and more. To help this, I've resolved to take the stairs up to my sixth floor apartment at least once a day.

Okay, so after my hike from the bus stop to the school, I had my first class about twenty minutes later. I had this lesson planned, printed, and felt ready to go. Then, I tried the lesson. The moment that immediately comes to my mind was my African geography lesson during my fall 2004 student teaching.

Long story short, I had assigned my students to learn all of the countries of Africa, but had forgot the refresh myself and looked like a fool in front of them. This time, I wasn't "unprepared" per se, I just hadn't prepared to their level. I had a worksheet that was designed to have them practice words that end in "er" and their different meanings. For example, while teacher means someone who teaches, rubber doesn't usually mean someone who rubs.

These students had now clue what the words meant--much less their nuanced meanings.

I think I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board. It is hard to plan units or a series of lessons because I have most of these students only once a week. That makes any continuity between lessons difficult. So, I think I may just move to short conversation-only classes. Maybe its bit of a cop out. Its certainly easier to teach some vocab for a thematic topic, some phrases, and have some sample dialogue than it is to attempt to teach new concepts.

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