Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life is Life / English as an International Language.

On the recent tournament trip, my students asked me a question:

Did I know the phrase "Life is Life"? Was it a phrase in English?

I had never heard it and asked what it meant.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tournament #2: Kurdzhali Brings the Trophies!

Team Selfie

Here they all are!
It's not without some beautiful irony that the post after I remark that "Teachers are Unliked" (a thinly masked post of frustration about my life as First Year Teacher in Bulgaria)... is about some Teaching Wins. And Awesome Students. And being Very Grateful for getting to work with them, that they're beautiful people, etc etc.

This past weekend was our second tournament for the Bulgarian Forensics League. 7 students came. Two debate teams, 2 oratories, 1 prose performance. I didn't do Forensics in high school or college. I picked it up this year to give me some project that would tie me to the other English Teacher Assistants and help connect my kids to other students around Bulgaria.

2nd Place in Prose! "The Fault in Our Stars"
The main thing about this weekend: I laughed. And I laughed hard. It's been a while since I've felt planted and rooted enough to let go like that. My kids are hilarious. From late night adventures on playgrounds, hour long debates about whether or not I should be fixing my contacts in public, hours in the bus on the ride back to Dobrich planning ice skating and brainstorming the "American Forensics League". When I list it all down, it doesn't sound like that much. But if you've been me the last few months, you'd realize just how precious Laughing Times are. They mean friendship and joy and cultural exchange and learning and Being Together. When you can laugh with people, you've got something going. I've needed to sense that Something was Going. I'm so grateful to my team for their work and energy!

Cross Examination
Oh. And it doesn't hurt that we came home with some wins in our pocket! Lazar came in second for his Original Oratory and Radost came in second in novice prose.  our team CAME IN SECOND OVERALL IN THE SMALL TEAM DIVISION! What?! We got a shiny trophy and everything.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Miscalculation

I miscalculated somewhere in junior high.

It was probably around the same time that my friend Kelly quietly said in our seventh grade french class that she would like to be a french teacher. Mrs. Bonfanti nodded encouragingly. We all looked at her like she was crazy.

She was crazy because she wanted to be a FRENCH teacher. Not because she wanted to be a teacher. (French was my worst subject)

She liked french. And she liked Mrs. Bonfanti. This equated to "Wants to be a Teacher."

I did the same thing.

Mrs. Bonfanti doubled as my English teacher. I loved her. I loved her assignments. I wrote extra pages because I thought this is fun. I remembered her lessons. I can repeat in class work we did and her funny speech on "how not to give a speech" and how she always told Carter not to say "Crap" or "suck". She liked us. And that's probably why I liked her.

I made the miscalculation again during high school. Mrs. Bell's literature classes. I liked Mrs. Bell. I liked literature. Therefore...

I didn't realize the miscalculation until recently. Until the past six months. Until I now regularly stand in front of high school students and attempt to impart wisdom and insight and ENGLISH EVERYTHING into their brains.

Students don't like teachers.

 I had no idea. I really didn't. I liked my teachers. I can think of one high school teacher who scared me  (Mrs. Dincher, I'm sure you meant the best). I can think of one not so great TA in college and one professor that took as active a dislike to me as I did to her and one class instructor (phd student) that I wanted to see fired.

Do you know how many teachers-just from college- I actually liked?

Say I took 5 classes a semester, 10 semesters (I did an extra college year): 50-3 I didn't like - 4 (I took from some professors twice): 43.

But people don't like teachers. Teachers don't like other teachers. Students don't like teachers. I can't think of a population of people more disliked than Teachers.

No one told me.

So here I am, Teacher of English, a teacher who likes to be liked and definitely isn't.

Someone warn the aspiring youth who want to teach!

Or don't. Maybe this should just be a well kept secret. Because I bet the students who want to be teachers are the ones who like their teachers. And someone has to teach!