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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Settling in

This week was my second week at work.  And although there was some unexpected (or maybe it should have been predicted) madness, I'm quite enjoying working at the school.  I have well behaved kids who have a general desire to learn.  All days except Friday, I have at least one break, sometimes more.  Mondays, I can leave after lunch.  I don't make lots of money, but it pays the bills and leaves enough for Oscar and I to keep up our partying habit.  I still need to figure out how the school runs, like where/how to get copies, what kind of supplies I can request, and generally how to get what I need without being annoying.  I'm not 100% sure what to do with the little kids, hell I'm not even 10% sure, and that's probably what brings me the most stress.  But I think in 3 months or so I'll have it all down.  I like having a purpose, having something to do, having a way to contribute, but you can bet your ass I still look forward to weekends!

I'm also feeling like I'm settling in with San Jose again.  It's not my hometown, but it is my home now and I'm starting to feel it more.  I know all the buses I need to, and can figure out the ones I don't.  When people ask for directions, I can occasionally answer them ("Donde esta la cruz roja?"  "Como a 500 metros en la pura esquina").  I don't think I stand out as much as I did before, but that could be me feeling more comfortable about standing out.  I say hello to the guardas I see every day.  I'm excited to see Perlita's doggy friends at the park and love that the owners know my name and ask me how work is going.  I'm starting to develop a group of friends, heavily based in Couch Surfing, but also just people I meet.

I'm happy here.  I like my job, my dog, my boyfriend, our apartment...  I'm still not completely sure I'd want to stay here forever.  But for right now this is exactly what I need.  There are things I still miss.  (This week I've had a cold and there are no lotion tissues here so my nose is all red and chapped.  Ouch!)  But I don't notice it and don't think about it too much.  More I realize all the things I would miss if I left.  The advertisements being blasted from car speakers, the fact that people wear hats and scarves when it drops below 70, that people in suits ride the buses.

So now it's time to crack open a Rock Ice Limon, hang up some laundry and read a Cosmo en espanol on this beautiful, sunny day.  Could a girl get any luckier?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My almost first week

I still have tomorrow, but I have a good amount of time to kill right now so I figured I'd go ahead and recap my first week.

I found out last Friday that Monday and Tuesday of this week would not be normal school days.  Instead I would have my clase guia (sort of like homeroom) all day each day.  In these days we were supposed to get to know each other, go over the rules, and just bullshit around basically.  Now I think an hour would have been plenty of time to do this, and one day more than sufficient.  But TWO FULL DAYS?  Ugh, I ran out of cute games to play halfway through the first day!  I mean really, how many icebreakers can you do?

So my clase guia is fifth grade.  I had already heard that this was the worst class of the whole school.  Teachers told me that they didn't listen, would talk constantly, and never did work.  So when I walked in the first day, I was more than ready for those wannabe bad kids.  Within the first half of day one, I had them wrapped around my finger.  They did whatever I told them to, and they did it quietly.  I think one of the problems with the school is how they much they talk about how we need to be nice to the kiddies, and that we're a family, and that there needs to be "warmth" in the classroom and blah blah blah; that the teachers completely forget about classroom management.  The bottom line is- there is no learning if there is no order.  Kids need to know that there are consequences for bad behavior and rewards for good behavior.  None of this "you're never wrong" bullshit.  Kids need rules.  Bottom line.

My first day of real teaching went well.  I really am enjoying working with these kids.  I mean if that 5th grade class is the worst group of kids they can throw at me, then I'm set for the year.  I haven't had 4th grade yet, but if the 5 other grades I've been with are any way a sign of what the 4th graders are, it should be a walk in the park.

What wasn't a walk in the park was working with the third graders today.  Look people, I'm a high school teacher, I don't hate your kids, but I also don't like them that much.  Children annoy me.  Small ones, at least. I don't like hugs.  I don't like being cute.  I don't like being nice.  I don't like pretending to laugh at jokes.  I don't like saying awful drawings are masterpieces.  Basically, I'm not cut out for kiddies.  Today I put 3 questions on the board for the 3rd graders to answer- what is science?  what is your favorite part of science? what do you want to learn in science?- and it took them almost an hour to do.  To give them a bit of credit, I'm teaching in English, which is their second language... but still!  I have no idea what type of activities to do with them, how long things take to do, what they can read, I don't know anything!  It's also hard for me to control them because I can't yell "SHUT UP AND GET IN A SEAT" since they'll cry and tell their mommy on me.  I'm lost.  I've been looking up "how to teach elementary kids" online, but nothing is really helping me.  I guess this will be trail and error for me.  So if any of you reader(s) out there happen to have any hints on teaching tiny children, please share in the comments section!  I would be so grateful!

The final thing I want to write about is my schedule.  It's FUBAR.  Yesterday I was handed an "updated" schedule which was actually a more wrong schedule than the one I already had.  This pissed me off because yesterday it said I had a 4th block and a 2:15 class (school ends at 2:00).  So I'm sitting waiting around for these kids, who never show up.  I go to look online and they don't have me that day!  I could have left after lunch, but because of this stupid schedule I was stuck waiting around.  Same thing happened today.  It says I have a 2:15 class, and no one shows up.  I'm starting to wonder if these 2:15 classes even exist.

Well that's about it for now.  The following buzzer beater has made my list of favorite sports clips of all time.  My other two are the US men's relay team beating the Frenchies in the Olympics, and Jason Williams scoring 10 points in 10 seconds versus Maryland back in 2000-something.  Enjoy=)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm never late!

Well almost never.  Of course the first two times I've ever been late for my job was my very first two days at my new one.

Yesterday, I took a taxi to a bus stop.  Well he starts driving the hella long way to rip off the blonde girl but being the street savvy blonde girl I am, I asked him to drop me off earlier where I knew another stop was..  While I was paying the guy, I saw my bus pull up.  So I hurried out of the taxi and squeezed onto the bus.  After getting on the highway, the bus took an unexpected exit onto a dirt road.  I assumed it was some sort of detour as this happens fairly often.  Then a lady next to me says "This isn't the bus for Santa Ana?" and the man responds "No".  Wait, what?  Turns out both of us had boarded the wrong bus.  In our defense, the bus was labeled for Santa Ana, but just wasn't going there for whatever random reason.  "No way", I thought, "no way is this happening on my FIRST day of work"  I was all stressed out, but managed to keep my wits about me and got off the bus about a block from where I know MY bus stops.  This particular stop is on the side of the highway.  No seats, no bus stop area, just some people huddled up against the guardrail.  So I huddled.

When my REAL bus finally came around, I still had about 10 minutes to get to school on time.  But of course I got on the bus with the slowest damn driver in all of San Jose.  It took 20 minutes for me to get to centro, then a half run/half trot 3 blocks up a hill to my school and I managed to arrive only 10 minutes late.  And nothing had started yet.  PHEW!

My first day basically consisted of people telling us how to teach.  You know, the normal stuff- include the kids, diversify your lesson plan, multiple intelligence, blah blah blah.  I get the purpose of these types of lectures, but none of them are ever useful.

After 3 or 4 hours of this, we piled into cars and drove to a cafe to have lunch.  It was too expensive and not that good, but the school paid for it so whatever.  It took almost 2 hours to eat and after an hour of small talk I was so ready to leave I could barely stand it.  The teachers I met (only 17 in the whole school!) are really very nice and helpful, but I was just. so. tired.  All I wanted was a nap.  Forget the damn food!

Finally around 2:30 people started leaving.  One of the teachers I met was going into San Jose as well so we walked to the bus stop.  I talked to him about the school.  He had worked there for a few years, then quit, then came back.  He says the good thing about the school is how relaxed everything is.  He says the bad thing about the school is how relaxed everything is.  He wouldn't tell me anymore because he "didn't want to ruin my motivation".  He sort of ended the conversation by saying "no school is perfect", which is true.

This morning I decided I wanted to figure out how long it would take me to get from the apartment to the school all in bus.  I can't be paying a $4.00 taxi ride every freaking day.  I assumed about an hour since it takes 20 minutes to get to San Jose and about 20 minutes to Santa Ana.  Boy was I wrong.  First mistake I made was thinking about how long it takes to get to Santa Ana from the highway bus stop, which is about halfway there, not San Jose, the starting point.  Second mistake was I got to my first stop too late, watched my bus fly by without stopping for the waving gringa, and then had to wait a full 15 minutes for the next one.  And finally, the traffic is just awful in San Jose in the morning, so it took longer than normal.

All that combines to equal me getting to work a full thirty minutes late.  Ugh.  I walk into the school assuming everyone is in a meeting, when I see that everyone is kind of doing their own thing.  YES!  Dodged another bullet!

I was given my classroom and started organizing stuff.  And that is where I sit now.  I'm supposed to be decorating, but I don't have anything to decorate with.  I'm supposed to ask the supply lady for supplies, but she's busy and told me to come back tomorrow.  I should be working on my lesson plans but I only have one class Monday so.. meh.  What I really want to know is if there is a full staff meeting today or if I could sneak home, take a really long nap and not have anyone be the wiser.

Today and yesterday have been awfully tiring for me.  I feel exhausted.  I guess I got used to being able to take a nap everyday.  Plus we've been up late moving shit, PS- kitchen is STILL not done.  I feel like this move couldn't have come at a worse time.  It's the week I start work, Oscar is in school, the kitchen isn't finished, I can't stay home with the dog for her to get used to the new place, and this weekend instead of having time to unpack we're going to a finca in the mountains.  Which will be nice, but geeze I just want to sleep!

Well that's it for now.  I think I'll go wander around to see what there is to see.