Saturday, November 9, 2013

Get to Work Already!

A serious dose of reality, or maybe surreality… 
I'd been so enjoying my free time and new surroundings that I almost forgot I came here to work! It began with a couple days of standard subject-specific PD (Professional Development for you non-teacher types).

Hood River-ites…notice the 10 Speed coffee (in my case green tea) travel mug?

Then it was time to meet our schools…
I can safely say that the principal at my school was not expecting two women to walk through the door that first day. Still, he greeted us and the male EMT's (English Medium Teachers) warmly and with an open mind. What struck me first was his kind eyes and soft-spoken nature. The first day we got to see the lobby, office area, main courtyard, and the 6th grade building, which was back behind the main square-shaped school structure which surrounds a large open courtyard where they have morning assembly every day, as well as other various assemblies. We were also introduced to a couple other teachers at the school and to Arabic coffee - YUM! The 6th grade building had not been used for at least a year and was completely stripped of anything useful, including whiteboards, desks, and chairs. 

Our second day at the school, Tanu (the other female teacher) and I were told that we were being transferred to girls' schools. After going to ADC headquarters later that day, Tanu was reassigned and I was kept at Jern Yafour because they had no other English teachers to put there, and I had told them I didn't mind being at an all boys' school on an all male staff…SILLY ME! So my plan was to show up Sunday morning and hope they had made a schedule and class lists and maybe assigned classrooms. 

All we could do was hope that a lot happened over the weekend before we got students on Sunday. I should mention here that in the UAE, Thursday is the new Friday (well for expats anyhow)! 

Ready for my 1st day!?
Look out Professor McGonnagal…

 One of the classrooms I would rotate to…at least we got desks and chairs for the kids. 
 Notice the window shades are pulled to keep the sun heat out.
Not much to start with, but we would get a waste bin, whiteboard, teacher desk & chair, and clock by the end of the first week. The second or third week would bring a teacher computer to each classroom, but no projector or printer, so not a lot of use at this point. Perhaps the most difficult part of this setup is the marble floors, metal chair posts (and desk posts in some rooms), and bare cement walls. Now imagine 33 prepubescent boy voices shouting and yelling (in their own secret language) whilst purposely screeching these desks and chairs against the floor…deafening!

Move-In Time!
During the third week of school, we were given keys and contracts for our apartments and one week to get moved in. IKEA, here we come!

My kitchen and move-in mess

 My washer/dryer…
Yes, it does both, but in very small loads!
It even plays a cute little tune when it finishes.

  I lost track of my abaya in the move for a couple days and braved it in "regular" clothes at school.
It became clear that this teaching position would be an exercise in calming myself amidst complete chaos and letting it all go when I walk out the door. The boys are wild at best and there are so many that they are impossible to control, so I do my best to teach what they seem to need to as many as I can get through to on any given day in any given class. Most have little or no English to work with, and a few can understand, speak, read, and write small amounts of English, so I have my work cut out for me here! The administrators and other teachers at this school are a fantastic bunch of guys! They are a helpful, supportive, and genuine bunch of characters with a wide variety of personalities. I am lucky to work with such a friendly staff.

The Fabulous Five reunited!
Dinner at The Lebanese Flower when Elise came over 
from Al Ain on the weekend to hit the IKEA scene

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