The last few weeks have been full of figuring out the loose system we are working in, learning what levels the students are bringing to their studies and adapting to the lack of internet and communication ability. First, the loose system is mostly due to the fact that this is a brand new school, only in it’s second year and the developing of school policies and procedures is still very much under-construction. As frustrating as it is, I am amazed at what has been accomplished on top of the fact that the enrollment nearly doubled from last year to this (400 students 1st year, over 750 this year). Lots of growing pains accompanying the rapid expansion.
The students are far below what I was expecting English language-wise. After my observation by the principal, he told me that I speak too quickly. I took that information to heart and have now slowed down my speech dramatically as well as started to ask the students to circle all the words that they do not understand in something we are reading. It was a shock the first time I observed all the words that were circled in just a few paragraphs. I’m now trying to devise ways to incorporate vital vocab into everything we do…without the kids realizing it.
- The textbooks we are using are decent, but so US-centric and out-of-context for my students that I often completely re-write the subject matter to make it relevant.
The internet, or lack there of, is probably the most distressing. I was under the impression that it would be more available and consistent. On the contrary, it is rare when have access and it is usually only during school hours, when we do not have time to use it. Utilizing Youtube and other great sites for educational videos or materials is out of question as the connection is too slow and inevitably we lose power all together (many times per day).
Re-reading this it sounds like I am just complaining. I really do not mean to be overly critical. I am definitely frustrated at times, but it is an adjustment period coming from the US where everything runs so smoothly (99.99999%) of the time. I’m adapting, with a few ‘growls’ and ‘arghs’ at times. But I am really confident that the administration of the school is trying very hard to make it a great place to learn and teach, it just needs a bit more time…and so do I.
Tomorrow I am introducing my Read Around the World program to my students. Even the non-readers are excited as they are going to get passports that will be stamped (stickers) when they reach certain places around the world (after they have turned in their book report and country activities) as well as prizes at milestones.
I’ve also started teaching ESL to the parents two nights a week. It is really fun to teach adults. They are just gobbling up the info. Its also giving me a connection with them and they get to see my teaching style, which is an insight for them as to US teaching methods.
The School Newspaper club launched last week. Mark, another teacher and I are the club leaders. The group is split 50/50 of 7th graders and 3rd graders. We all brainstormed ideas for the look and types of stories. They all took on projects to turn in this next Wednesday. It seems like a fun and energetic group. We are hoping to have a name for our Newspaper this Wednesday.
So here’s to a great Monday and week. I hope you enjoy yours too!
4 thoughts on “Working at a New International School”
So good to hear from you! It sounds like despite the frustrations you are making the most of your experience — so good for you and the kids to see.
You are in our thoughts often!
Patty and Gary
Hi Gretchen, just want you to know I love reading your letters and sharing your adventure/venture. Vicariously. Prayers from me around your everyday challenges. Love from Sandy in Gig Harbor
Enjoy the experience of pouring into the lives of these children and their parents, Gretchen–they will not soon forget it, or you!
Thanks AR. Yes, impressions are being made on both sides. It is fun and I think the challenges make it more interesting.