School Madness: First Week

Hoo-wee! This week has felt like a month in itself! The beginning of the school year is always a crazy time, but this year it felt like it was twice as nuts. Maybe more so for me because I’m starting to teach in the upper grades at school this year — a whole other animal from preschool. I have six groups from 10-15 years old. One day a week, I teach them all in a row. The rest of the week is thankfully a bit more relaxed.

Anyway, all through the first week, the schedules are getting the kinks worked out so there’s a lot of scrambling to find the right classroom, switching classrooms, dividing students (I have 5 split groups that will alternate back and forth with a second teacher the rest of the year — oh, the joy), and because no one has any set plans with English yet, it’s a bit of a grab bag for activities to do for 45 minutes.

The positives are I have a chance to work on my language grading (ESL 101: grading your language means speaking at a level that is easily understandable for students) and guiding speaking activities all year, peppered with a few writing, reading and listening focuses. I also really do like this age group. Sure, they’re a little rough around the edges and it sometimes feels like I’m back in the preschool with giant toddlers, but overall they have enthusiasm for English Conversation class and are pretty willing to participate when given motivation. Key word there: motivation. You kind of have to trick them into participation until you hit the age 14-15 range. Then you have to prove why participation is practical and significant for them. I probably spent almost 6-7 hours this weekend reviewing my observations and planning how to manipulate foster engagement in my students.

In all of this, I’ve had some back end stress too. The apartment I was expecting to move to ended up too expensive and the two roommates I might have had never panned out. So, for the last week, I’ve been living in the hotel at Zako while my kitty stayed with the same family that cared for him over the summer. I didn’t sleep well for a few days. And I cried about as much as I prayed. I really hoped to be settled before starting the first week of school because that’s already so unstable, not coming home to…well, “home,” felt like I was teetering every day. God has pulled through once more after putting me through some things. (I don’t like these growth moments, but they do work.) I have an apartment close to the center of town, it’s got two rooms, a small balcony (more like a big window with some space for plants), furnished (Hallelujah, I can save some funds!), and it’s built in the old communist era style of a billion concrete steps that you circle around to get to the next set of stairs so I will get a free daily workout. Biggest bonus is that I’m around the corner from the church. I can easily invite people over on Sunday afternoons. And I have it by myself (and Miłosz), which is refreshing after a year sharing the same, open living space with another person.

It’s such a weight off my shoulders knowing I have a place to live now. I literally worried myself sick the middle of this past week and had to take a day at home to recover (those 4 classes last Friday were not going to teach themselves). I’m so, so grateful. I’m fortunate to be here in Poland at all, being a part of Proem, and experiencing the faith in action discomforts that come when you know you’re doing something right. Despite the setbacks, I’m here and doing this thing.

It’s such hard work; harder now that I have longer lessons and bigger kids to work with, but more opportunity to be an influence, to create a relationship, to show love and faith working together and making an impact on the school. Keep praying. Keep supporting. Good night!


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