First Day

15MR08 – first day

Good Morning, good morning to you.
We're all in our places
With sunshiny faces,
and this is the way
to start a new day!

Good morning to you
Good morning to you
Our day is beginning
There's so much to do So good morning, good morning, Good morning to you!

We went to the school for our first whole day today. Aodhan and Ciaran went to their classrooms – I have (sorry just had to pause to kill some little crawly thing on my screen) put Aodhan with the grade 2 class and Ciaran with the grade 4’s. I wanted the work to be less challenging so they can focus on learning Spanish and helping the other kids with English. (sorry – Aodhan distracted me – trying to get the little crawly bugs out of his sketchbook). I was given my schedule.

Here goes:

6:50 – 7:30 English 10°
7:30 – 8:10 Reading 7°
8:10 – 8:50 Economics
8:50 – 9:30 Literature
9:30 – 9:45 R E C E S S
9:45 – 10:25 English 7°
10:25 – 11:05 English 11°
11:05 – 11:45 English 9°
11:45 – 12:05 L U N C H
12:05 – 12:45 – Reading 8°
12:45 – 1:25 Reading 9°
1:25 – 2:00

The rest of the days of the week are similar to Monday - and on Thursday, I will also be teaching the grade 11’s US History? Go ahead Greg, laugh it up - I'll agree with you that the amount of US history I know can be written on the head of a pin without any special tools.

So … high school ... Great. I was thinking that the prepa class looked good – all the 3 year olds singing little songs. It looks like I get some kind of spare period from 1:25 – 2:00. They told me that I should arrive at all my classes prepared with a lesson plan, and ready. After a while they showed me some books – “this one is grade 7 English, this one is Literature – the grade 10’s do literature, this one is for grade 8 and I think this one says 11 on the back – ok gotta go teach my class see ya”. So I pick through the books – now what one did she say was for grade 9? Because according to my Friday morning schedule I should be there first – oh she didn’t give me a book for grade 9 hmmm – oh well, because it’s actually 7:30 because the told me I start at 7:20 which is about when the bell rang, so I guess I go to grade 8 and I do have a book for that – who knows what I’m going to teach out of it?? No there won’t be any other teacher in the class, just me - Guess I wing it from here. So I go to gather the book, swallow the contents of my stomach back down and ask if I should go to the grade 8 class now – maybe hoping they will say that someone will give me some idea what to teach them – or at least how to teach kids at all? WAIT they said – this is exam week – there are no classes – there are no classes next week either – Easter break - so what was all their hurry getting me here? Anyway, could I please give the grade 7’s and 8s their reading exams? Please be careful they caught kids cheating last week, make sure you are hard on them – you can scream at them if you need, they are kids you can discipline them. Here let’s go finish photocopying and stapling together the exams. Here they are – ok grade 7 class this is your new teacher – she is going to give you your exam, ok bye. Good morning I say in my big girl voice. A thick silence slides down over my brain, and starts to ooze out my ears. I stand there with the papers clutched feverously in my clenched fingers. The sound of the whumph whumph of the fans starts to throb in my brain. I reach for the sky with my golden bracelets sparkling on my wrists “by the power of Zues, Isis, Astarte – thunder and lightning – what the hell were those words anyway – I smash my wrists together and yell WONDER WOMAN” I have arrived in my clear glass plane with my golden bra – “We will be writing an examination today. Please get all of the things you will need, your text – it is open book, and any pens and pencils you will require. Place all other objects under your desk. NOW. Excuse me – I am talking – that means that you are listening. Please put all your other items on the floor – your knapsack goes on the floor not on the back of your chair – there will be no talking.” A boy at the front says I have forgotten my book. “Please raise your hand if you wish to ask a question” I snap. He raises his hand. I tell him he will have to write the exam without it and if one of the other kids is done early he can borrow theirs. It’s ok he says, he’s read the stories and won’t need the book. He raises his hand. Yes I say. “I don’t have a pencil” he says. “You have come to my class unprepared” This is unacceptable. No book, no pencil? Did you expect your mother to pack your bag in the morning? You are not a little child, it is your responsibility to bring all the items you need, not your mother’s. Today I guess I will have to be your mother” I glower as I hand him a pencil from my bag. This is great training I think – I get to practice on these guys and when my kids are this age, I will be ready for them… A small maniacal giggle wells up in my throat and a small evil smile curls up one side of my lips. The kids are silent. I hand out the papers. One of the kids raises their hand. “Where do we write the answers?” I look. It isn’t multiple choice, it is short answer and there is nowhere to write the answers. I have no paper. ‘Do we just write between the questions” one small voice peeps. “YES!” I say, just write between the questions, you can write on the back too. There is a knock at the door. Someone with a message from the principal for the class. After, I ask the messanger if he can get me some paper, He gets me 1 sheet for each child. Recess. All the kids buy bags of Pepsi and chips and candies and maybe some small cheese filled tortillas, (Aodhan is in heaven, Ciaran is getting hungry – we have them fry him a couple with no cheeses – just like a couple of nacho chips – he’s still hungry) I bounce up to the grade 8 room … “La la la la la that was easy, this will be easy – la la la” I hear catcalls as I walk by the window to the grade 8 room – hey miss come here – hey. I walk in. The teacher waves a greeting to me and talks to the kids for a long time in Spanish. It sounds like no cheating, no passing notes, keep your eyes on your own paper, etc. Then she smiles and gives the kids one more stern look and leaves. Good morning I say. “Gooood Mooorrrninnng” the kids mock back in unison. One boy says ‘my name is @#$T?? – some Spanish word that I dare not repeat I’m sure. He says “You can call me ^%%$?? Some other Spanish word that I also dare not respond to. I give him a curt little half smile. One of the girls behind me starts whining “can we just have the test?” “Sure”, I say, “when It’s quiet enough. “Get out everything you need for the test” I snap, “pens, pencils, your book, place everything else under your desk”. “There is to be silence during the examination”. The kids are chattering uncontrollably. “Can everyone please take out 2 sheets of blank paper” “We don’t got no paper miss” “I’ll go get some” “Sure” I say, “that would be great”. “Can you just give us our exams” the petulant female voice repeats. “Hey miss, he’s touching my leg” one boy accuses the boy in front of him. “Hey miss, he won’t stop touching my leg” “Perhaps you should be happy that he likes you” I respond. “Hey are you saying? Loud snickers erupt, “hey I’m not some &%^$#” “Hey miss, where you frum hey? Another voice calls over the chatter” I feel my knees getting wobbly. The boy returns with the paper. I say. “If you can be quiet, I can hand out the test papers”. They quiet down quite a bit. I start to hand out the papers. The decibel level rises. I know we are at a make or break point, and I am about to break. I look at one boy who is saying something to the girl next to him. “You”, I command, “stand up and define silence for the class”. “Uhmmm” he says. “STAND UP” I repeat. I look at him … defiantly… Slowly he stands. I raise my golden bracelets high and scream “by the powers of Zeus” I feel my cape fluttering about my ankles and my thigh high boots gleam in the sun. After he sits down they are quiet. One boy, says something – it is the same kid who had told me his “name” at the beginning of class. He has been one of the most verbal, getting lots of laughs. I turn, my heat vision glowing red from my eyes, “If you want to act like small children, I will treat you like small children. Small children sit on the floor to learn. You… take your book and sit on the floor. You will write the test there.” “On the FLOOR!!!” The voice was just a touch higher with an imperceptible squeak to it. My Wonder Woman ears picked it up. “On the floor” I calmly repeated. “If you can be quiet for 5 minutes, you can sit in your desk again. He silently slid to the floor, amidst the cruel snickers of his classmates. He handled it well, and smiled. I knew I had found my power. I finished handing out the papers, and touched his bent shoulder, and said he could return to his desk. It took two more times on the floor for him, and twice for another boy, but 15 minutes into that class, All heads were bent over their work, and there was silence. One peep brought a glower from me, and the head would immediately snap back into examination position.

After school – it ended early at 1pm because of Easter Holidays, we were all invited to go swimming. It was a real pool, and a kind of a country club, really quite pretty, with palm trees around and manicured areas. The only problem was they have a no tee-shirts in the pool rule and Aodhan won’t go in without one. He got in for a minute or two before they asked him to take his shirt off. He had lots of fun running around chasing coconuts & sitting in the shade drawing. The teachers brought us some chicken and tortillas for supper. It was a lovely afternoon by the pool – almost like sitting around at home at one of the yacht clubs or something – just the armed guards with 3 foot long guns patrolling outside the fence to make us realize this wasn’t Canada. I had a chance to talk to Rita and Puran quite a bit. Rita was from Iowa, and she married a Honduran man and has been living here for 22 years, teaching at El Alba. Puran is from Kitchener. Her background is Iranian. She leaves Canada every winter to escape. She has taught in many of the Central American countries – her first trip was to Mexico.

According to Rita and Pooran, the man (from the US) I am replacing is a “piece of work”. Even though he has not been teaching at the school for two weeks, he is still living in Rita’s other apartment, despite the fact that she has taken him to court to get him out. He should be gone by the end of the month. This is why my apartment wasn’t ready when I got here. That is why they have put me in another apartment instead of with Rita.

We arrived at my quite cute and actually quite clean apartment at about 8pm, and I had a double bed, wardrobe (which apparently is an amazing luxury here) a hotplate with 2 burners, a fridge, and a little plastic shelf. I have a couple of forks and bowls and 1 cup and plate. I asked them if I could get some sheets for the bed and they returned with a mop, broom, a bag of cleaners, waste baskets, a couple of cooking utensils and a small frypan. I was delighted … well, until I had to sleep in the 100% polyester sheets they brought me.

The boy are entertaining themselves disassembling our filthy fan and want to know if I have a screwdriver …