Monday, November 12, 2007

11.C takes a quiz

With my 11.C classes, I’m currently working, very slowly, through basic America history and culture. Their assignment over the break was to read a measly 5 pages about schools, society, and culture in Colonial America. The five pages contained some pretty advanced vocabulary though, and so I specifically told them, “Make sure you look up all the words you don’t understand, because we’re going to have a vocabulary quiz next lesson.

No one listened, save one or two girls. Feeling pretty sulky and uninspired, I gave them 35 minutes to look up and study the words, and gave the quiz at the end of class (the 10 words I picked for the quiz were: frontier, deter, be obliged to, thrive, tuition, endeavor, bequeath, vigorous, diffusion, and charter). Although many of them bombed it, they did manage to come up with some entertaining mistakes:

- Everyone was tuited about the schools.
- You can always deter words.
- Towns are obliged to countries.
- Thriving is really dangerous.
- If you’re lost in a town abroad, you can get a tuition from someone in the street.
- Endeavors were in the past, in America history it was present.
- We learned something about diffusion last year from chemistry.
- I have thriven by my sister.
- I put the bequeath under my door, not to move.

and my favorites:
- Endeavors invaded the country.
- Bequeath sounds like french baguette.
- When Soma entered the room he said vigorous.

Nice try, guys.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Open Day

Today was a non-teaching day for me. Because of last week’s holiday, and my illness the week before, it’s now been a month since I’ve seen some of my Wednesday classes, including my Most-Hated Class (I won’t say which class it is, but you’d know if you looked in my gradebook - it’s the class on whose page Tomi drew a picture for me. He asked if he could draw something and my answer was “Sure, but draw it on this page, because whenever I see the list of their names I need something beautiful to keep me sane”).

The reason behind the non-teaching day was that today Varga had their Open Day, where current 8th graders come and check out the school to see if they might apply (unlike America, all high schools in Hungary are by application). God forbid the prospies might see an actual normal school day, so today the school made up a special one-day schedule, which showcased the best teachers teaching special fun and interesting lessons to the best students. In this whole best-foot-forward frenzy, I was not asked to teach a lesson. Cool.

I used my free day for, what else, being lazy at home and getting nothing done as usual. But, being the good pedagogue that I am, I managed to find some time in my busy nothingness to catch up with my favorite three teaching blogs, listed here in order of discovery: A Teacher's Education, California Teacher Guy, and Ms. Issippi. The latter I just found recently, and spent a good several hours going through her archives. Teaching first grade in rural Mississippi sounds remarkably similar to teaching older children in Hungary; besides, her stories inspire me to be a better teacher. I wish she would start posting again....

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hat nap amerikában

So it’s Friday, and in less than 12 hours I’ll be boarding a plane, which will take me to a plane which will take me to another plane, which will take me back to Hungary. After six days back here, these are the things I still haven’t gotten comfortable with:

- Being the thinnest person in the room/store/area. Really, it was flattering at first, but it’s becoming disturbing.

- Waking up at 6 or 4 or 2 am, to a pitch black sky, and feeling as refreshed as if I slept til noon.

- Commercials on TV. It’s the same as the fat people everywhere: I don’t see them in Hungary, and they both fascinate and disgust me.

- Is it just my house, or are light-switches and doorknobs much lower in America?

- I never, ever, EVER thought I’d say or even think this but... I miss house slippers. Even in my parent’s fully-carpeted house, I miss my flip-flops and slip-ons.

- Dial-up internet. Seriously, in this day and age.... how can anyone live like this???

- People always smiling at you and asking how you are. It’s creepy. And on the other hand, if I’m in a store and ask something like “Excuse me, can you please tell me where....” they look at me like I’m being sickeningly polite. Have I lost my scale of American manners?

- The crappy radio stations here.

- My family. That’s a whole ’nother post, I guess.

- Everything being in extremes. There’s too much or too little of everything: too many people, too many cars, too much open space, too much consumerism, too much stress, too many things to do, too many people to see, too many things I want. And on the other hand, I have too little time, too little money, and too little patience to deal with it all. And I have no place anymore. In the end, I guess what I find the most upsetting is the lack of control I have on my own life here. Everyone told me it was foolish to come back for just a week, and they were all right, although maybe not in the way they thought: a week here was just enough to upset my life in Szolnok, without giving me any of the benefits of being here.