First English Club Meeting

When I walked up to the school, there were two girls already waiting. Which I took as a good sign.  The front door was locked however; which I took as  bad sign. There was a cleaning lady inside, but we just decided to wait… and see.

The main student that I went to for assistance in the school is an 11th grader named Sophia. She is a very outgoing young lady who really wants to learn English and understands to do that she needs to speak with native English speakers. She came up to us a little later and took matters into her own hands. She talked to the custodian and found out that the side door was open.

So my game plan for the Club is to set it up as multifaceted. I want there to always be 1. a game portion, 2. a discussion portion and 3. a music/dancing/ interactive/ movement portion.

Yesterday I played a version of Charades where they could speak (only in English) but not use gestures. So much fun!  And it was a joy to see their personalities shine. Then we had a talk on “What they wanted to do once they finished high school and why?” Very driven young ladies. Responses ranged from Ambassador, and Dancer to a Lawyer. And all had university as the next step.

Then I taught them the cupid shuffle. That was… entertaining. I keep forgetting some people don’t like to dance. That concept is beyond me.

But all in all, even though there were only four people, I think it was a success. Fun had by all.

The first inaugural English speaking Club at Ozurgeti School #4

“To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left
Now kick, now kick, now kick, now kick
Now walk it by yourself, now walk it by yourself”
Cupid Shuffle, Cupid

English.For.Number.Four

Today, I had to cover two classes of a sick co-teacher. Fortunately one of them was a class I started some classroom management techniques already. (That’s not to say some of the students still didn’t still act a fool. One kid had it in his mind that he was going to throw paper balls all day long; teacher, no teacher, didn’t matter.) But all in all, we had a really good time.

The other class was a 10th grade class I had not met yet. So I was excited to go to them. I’m really impressed with the level of English that the higher grades already know. That’s testament to the teachers here at our school. What that means to me is although the beginning grades are STRUGGLING, there is hope. They were laid back and very receptive to me and the conversation.

 

Tomorrow is the first meeting of an English Speaking club for high schoolers I am starting here. We are going to meet twice a week to start and see how that goes. We are meeting at the school at 5:00. A problem with scheduling that I encountered was that they are stacked with time commitments. School lasts until 3:00, so it obviously had to be afterschool. But I was informed that a lot of the students have private lessons immediately afterschool (and late into the night. Lado is at a lesson now, and it’s 8 p.m.). I initially wanted to do a joint Club with Caroline in a café in town. That way we could have joined schools and upped the cool factor. But then I got to thinking maybe some of the kids couldn’t afford to spent money on things like that. And Caroline’s days are numbered here with me….. sigh.

I’m really excited and I know the kids I’ve talked to are excited as well. But if you know me, you also know I get super nervous when putting on events. So Ill probably not sleep all night thinking of all angles of how it should go tomorrow. Wish me well.

Oh, if any of my followers (Renee I. and Ami H.) have any ideas for activities that we can do, things that you think would help them practice English with each other with no pressure and while having fun let me know.

The facebook page for Club (created today!) is www.facebook.com/english.for.number.four

 

 “It’s all happening!” -Penny Lane, Almost Famous

Gobble Gobble

Lado and I went to the store to get supplies. We had trouble securing the evaporated milk, cheddar cheese, unsalted butter and other key ingredients, but I improvised well enough. When we got back home, Lado told me to wait for him to return to start. He had to go to tutoring.

During breakfast, waiting for the ladies to clear some kitchen space for us, Lado yells for me to hurry up and finish. The oven and stovetop fires are lit…. its time to cook!  Okay! I got up, because I didn’t need to finish my bread with jelly. I was going to eat again in an hour. But the host grandpa of course yelled at me. “What the hell! Sit down and finish your bread! People are starving in Africa!!” (Or something like that.)

My host mom and grandma were super excited about me cooking and equally excited to witness a new American dish. They asked me to show them other recipes, too.

The cooking in the kitchen was super hectic. They were cooking for the host dad’s birthday supra, too. It’s hard to cook in someone else’s kitchen, even more so a kitchen in a foreign country. Things didn’t work out exactly as planned. The cheese was too soft, which made it separate from the eggs, but after all was said and done, I had a respectable dish of  Mac and Cheese.

My Macaroni and Cheese Dish

I had planned on asking the host dad to drive me to the meeting place, but he was out with Lado practicing for his driver’s license. So I had to walk with the hot dish. I used my hat and gloves to protect my hands. On the way, a neighbor who is currently on break from school in University in Tbilisi, helped me to find my destination.

When I approached the apartment I saw several of my students! That was a pleasant surprise. It’s always good to see students in a non-classroom setting, plus I got to see their parents and them me.

When I got to the dinner, everyone was already there. There were a couple of people I didn’t know, but for the most part, it was a gathering of people I had met from Peace Corp or other TLG members. The table was set and the other dishes were ready to be delved into. We had Turkey, gravy, potato salad, squash casserole, apple crisps and more. It was a true ‘American’ dinner. And everything turned out so good! I think everyone was pleasantly surprised.

Good food, good fun, good people. So although I’m halfway across the globe, it’s good to be able to gather with friends and recreate a tradition that we all cherish and hold so dear.

One thing I want to mention is a tidbit on the host for the dinner party. He moved here three years ago with his family; wife and two kids. He is in Georgia doing Educational work similar to what I want to eventually be doing. He works for an NGO training Georgian teachers on alternative teaching methodologies. His wife is a pre-school teacher from what I gather. And her Georgian is amazing. Their children were super young when they brought them over. Their oldest daughter is fluent in Georgian and the younger son understands it well. They were here to see Georgia before TLG or Peace Corp. They are building a house and are truly putting down roots. It’s good to see that my goal is attainable and that others have had similar thoughts for Georgia.

And now the moment you have all been waiting for… Brooke attempting to behead the Thanksgiving Turkey.

* This is a violent and disturbing video, I’m not joking. If you are a member of or sympathizer of PETA, or if you object to seeing animals harmed or hurt, or if you just love animals to any degree whatsoever or if you have a heart, you WILL NOT want to watch this. But we did eat it, and it was very yummy.

Video: Brooke and the Turkey

(Now that i think about it, I doubt this is even Youtube approved)

 

Daddy’s Little Girl

Today is a rainy Sunday. For most of the morning I found myself sitting on the couch downstairs reading a great book and being warmed by the fire. Beside me on the other couch were the host dad and Nino.

The host dad is loving and caring of his little girl.  He patiently humored her as she played made up card tricks on him. Then he helped her cook with her toy kitchen stove and pot set. Everything was salted and taste tested to perfection. A baby doll was invited to dinner also, but she had to be fed via the ‘choo-choo train’ method (you know how baby dolls are).  We had chicken and mashed potatoes. It was delicious.

“Momma’s waiting to tuck her in,
As she fumbles up those stairs.
She smiles back at him dragging that teddy bear.
Sleep tight, blue eyes and bouncin’ curls.

He smiles…..
There goes my life.
There goes my future, my everything.
There goes my life.”

There Goes My Life, Kenny Chesney

Pandora’s Box

They other day one of the teachers was super frustrated because she isn’t making progress with the little ones. And asked for my assistance. My heart bleeds for her, obviously. But the problem with not only her slow progress but also the progress of the English program at large is that its systemic.

Once I get a handle on the overall vision of their methods (if there is a vision) I will start suggesting what I know they will think of as radical ideas. For example, how about telling the kids when tests will be and test them on the information you just taught so they will know what to study? To more drastic suggestions like teaching with phonetics in the early grades so they can read later on instead of memorizing words. (Even though their skills for memorization are freakishly scary).

All that to say, “Hold on lady! I’m coming!”

Some people might say, ‘Just start suggesting better techniques! Just start doing!” Maybe one of my flaws is that, before I act, I have to have a complete organized throughout plan. I can’t simply start doing stuff and pulling levers and pushing buttons. That’s how I think. I need to think about ramifications of actions and visualize outcomes before I do anything with lasting impact. For example, let’s say I suggested the ‘test thing’ tomorrow. Residual things would be questions like: What would they test? How big of sections to test? Then other questions like what would grade go toward on a larger scale? What about other grades? What are ramifications if they don’t pass test? The course? What would the test format be? What all would it take to make this a top to bottom process? Etc, etc.

 

 

 

One day, when Epimetheus lay sleeping, Pandora stole the key and opened the box.

Out flew every kind of disease and sickness, hate and envy, and all the bad things that people had never experienced before. Pandora slammed the lid closed, but it was too late. All the bad things were already out of the box. They flew away, out into the world. Epimetheus woke up at the sound of her sobbing. “I opened the box and all these ugly things flew out,” she cried. “I tried to catch them, but they all got out.” Pandora opened the box to show him how empty it was. But the box was not quite empty. One tiny bug flew quickly out before Pandora could slam the lid shut again.

“Hello, Pandora,” said the bug, hovering just out of reach. “My name is Hope.” With a nod of thanks for being set free, Hope flew out into the world, a world that now held Envy, Crime, Hate, and Disease – and Hope.

The Matrix

I’m not a fan of teaching by myself in the classroom here. The main reason, as I’ve mentioned before, is there is no discipline in the classroom short of physical threats or verbal bombardment into submission. Which is why I think TLG with all its wisdom set up the co-teacher dynamic.

Well today a teacher was out sick I assume, and I had to take her classes. Two of them, back to back; fifth and sixth grades. Okay.

Well the first thing I did was to set up some rules. Do not yell at me to call on you. Simply raise your hand and I’ll possibly call on you. If you yell for me, I WILL not call on you. Simple stuff like that. That alone set the tone for a smoother lesson for both classes. They still were anxious to answer the questions and could barely contain themselves to stay in their seats.

As I was walking home, I was replaying the events of the classes in my head and was feeling pretty satisfied. Then I realized I was only scraping at the tip of the matrix that the students had woven for their mutual protection. Here I am self-satisfied with getting them to stop yelling my name, but the second layer of over excitement was still used (in sociological terms called this is called conditioning) to prevent me from calling on their weaker classmates. In other words, they are using a whole host of mechanisms of smoke and mirrors to hide the ones who do not know the material. It also follows that they do not mind cheating by giving the answers to their classmates, they are proud and brazen in doing so. The communal spirit is daunting and deep.

Well played, students… well played.

***

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” – Morpheus