I realize that I haven’t updated my blog in a little while and most of that is due to pure exhaustion on my part. I work 4 days a week and teach anywhere from 4-6 classes per day with students ranging from 11 years old to 18 years old. I realize that, to Americans, my mere 19 hours a week of work pales in comparison to the 40+ hours most of my friends and family work, but it has been quite an adjustment from being the student to being the teacher. I am painfully introverted (it has only intensified since being in Moldova) and being around people all day truly kills my energy level. This is a characteristic about me that my host family is still struggling to understand because introversion is not something that is very common to see in Moldova since they are such a community-based population. There is simply no time for a person to be introverted. However, I am lucky to have some fellow PCV introverts that I can vent to when the exhaustion hits a fever pitch and I start becoming jaded and frustrated. Pas cu pas (step by step) is how I get through the day…especially days like today where I had to cover my two most difficult classes alone…love my kiddos to death, but oh doamne.
My students are very excited to work with me in their classrooms, but we still haven’t managed to meet in the middle when it comes to noise level and the detriments of cheating. Cheating has never really been a punishable offense here in Moldova because they are such a tight knit community, but times they are a changin’. This is a fight that some PCVs just can’t tackle due to the unwillingness of their counterparts or the learning environment in their school. I, however, am a stickler for cheating and my obsession with lessening its prevalence in my classrooms is probably exhausting me more than necessary. I usually spend test days constantly walking around the classroom watching for wandering eyes, cell phones, open books/notebooks/dictionaries, and trying to control the chatter as much as possible. My students had a rude awakening when they were punished for cheating the first time I gave a test…I walked over to a student that had been told to turn around and stop talking multiple times and wrote a big -1 on the top of his paper. Since this was my problem class, they had been told that cheating would not be tolerated and that the -1 meant minus one letter grade, not minus one point. Needless to say, after that, the students in that class didn’t cheat. Maybe this fight is a fruitless one, but I’m gonna go down swingin’.
I’ve had some cultural faux pas in my school, which has caused other teachers to complain about it to my partners. This, in and of itself, is a very frustrating occurrence because, if they never address they issue with me directly, I am never going to learn what I am doing wrong. The indirect nature of conversation in Moldova is something that I have not (and probably will not) get used to anytime soon because I have been absurdly direct my entire life…thanks Dad. Once my partner addressed my mistake, I told her I was happy to fix it, but that they needed to be frank with me about things. Hopefully, we are moving in the right direction with that particular issue. But, I am making strides with attempting to fit in with the teaching staff. During our teacher’s day celebration, I was able to talk and celebrate with them in true Moldovan style and that helped my integration significantly.
A few of my students are applying for a program that would allow them to study in an American high school for a full year next year. I have done a few tutoring sessions with them to prepare them for what they might see at their testing date and I have no doubt that they are going to do wonderfully! We have talked about the importance of learning about American culture through this program, but I have also been trying to impress upon them the importance of sharing their culture. It is hard for them to understand that American students would be interested in their culture, but I have assured them that students in the US will be fascinated to hear about different cultures, especially those that may not be as well known. I have students in other classes that have inquired about tutoring so it looks like I’ll be getting my English club started in the next semester so that I’m not bogged down with 235832834 tutoring appointments a week. I so appreciate their eagerness to learn…so much so that I spent money out of my own pocket to purchase some books written in English that they can read until I can write a grant to obtain some for the school library.
All in all, school has been going pretty well and I am really enjoying teaching…like way more than I thought I would. Anyone that knows me (even a little) would probably tell you that the last job they ever expected me to have was a teacher, especially with middle and high school. But, here I am and it’s great. Even on days when I literally see red with rage because the students aren’t listening or on test days when I want to pull my hair out, these kiddos manage to redeem themselves by leaving an apple on the desk for me or bringing me flowers to let me know how much they appreciate me. Looking ahead 2 years, I could see myself being a high school English teacher in America in a lower-income rural or urban school and I think I’d be really happy doing it. But, we’ll see. 2 years is a lotta life to live and it’ll be interesting to see where it takes me.
O zi buna, y’all!
P.S. This meme is my life.