Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Recognizing & Reckoning

I had been dexterously avoiding infection these past two weeks, but it seems that a fortnight's respite is all I will be granted from the illnesses of the young. I woke up at midnight coughing and sneezing, and while an antihistamine has taken the edge off, I suspect that I will be staying in this weekend nursing the inevitable cold. Germy little creatures, middle schoolers.

 My adult student is a fascinating conversationalist, borne of his having lived for 10 years in Moscow while he attended МГУ (Московский государственный университет--Moscow State University) and worked as a sometime tour guide for visiting Korean executives. He's traveled widely, with stops in France, Estonia, and Turkey. He said in the last country the hotel room rate was listed at $300 a night, but he got it for $30. Apparently you're a fool if you pay full price for accommodation in Istanbul! He's a certified social worker (a female friend asked him to write a social work paper that she was too busy to do, and he got interested in the subject) and he plans to start an bachelors program in architecture this coming year. Although I've created a basic outline for what we will discuss day by day, the conversations frequently range widely. I hope he's actually absorbing something – I am certainly learning a lot! His P/F conflation continues, but he is making an effort.

Most of my young students are making an effort, too. The second and third graders are sweet, enthusiastic, and bouncy. The fourth and fifth graders have accumulated enough vocabulary to be pressing against its limits. The sixth graders are particularly tough nuts to crack, though, with one class stocked with boys who like to cut up, and the other entirely populated with kids who are terrified of speaking aloud. I must regularly squelch the former and have been plotting various ways of tricking the latter into speaking audibly.

We are supposed to submit monthly grades early next week, and I have been straining to learn the kids' names and identify strengths and weaknesses in their linguistic capability. I am so grateful that the classes are small! Still, I have about 50 students, and figuring out what they actually know and can do versus what they think they know and don't, or what they moan they can't do and are perfectly capable of doing, is an effort.

I hope the school administrators are happy with my work. I don't get observed in person, but remotely – all the lessons are CCTV recorded by unobtrusive little cameras in the corners of the classrooms. I don't know if this includes an audio track, which would doubtless reveal my heavy southern accent and my frequent rambling...

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