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Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Vitosha Clean-up

Yesterday I helped clean up Mt. Vitosha. I picked up more than 100 cigarette butts! (That’s a personal record I’ll have you know.)

I also picked up plastic bags, beer bottle lids, bits and pieces of glass bottles, crumpled up aluminum foil, what had been at one point a sweatshirt and tons of unidentifiable pieces of paper.

Why would I spend my Saturday doing this? Well, I volunteered to be a chaperone so that ACS faculty and students could participate in a Bulgaria-wide volunteer day, sponsored in part by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria (“AmCham”). The project we picked to participate in was cleaning-up Mt. Vitosha.

Basically, we chose to devote a Saturday to picking up other people’s garbage. To cleaning up the Nature.

Yep, you read that correctly: the Nature. I know, I know. Grammatically, it’s incorrect to say “the nature” you don’t need the article the because we always speak generally about nature in English. This said my students and widely speaking Bulgarians regularly make this mistake and add the to nature. Making it “the nature” that they are speaking about.  This mistake makes the English teacher in me grimace but yesterday it really did feel like we were cleaning up the Nature. Vitosha was incredibly beautiful. (more…)

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Teaching is never easy. It’s hard work. It takes time. It requires energy, creativity and a sometimes even a smile when the last thing you want to do is smile. But if you’re an American teaching in Bulgaria, it often requires even more.

It’s a country where nearly everyone is appreciative of what you’re doing–it’s just that not everyone has the same understanding of what you’re doing and how you’re going about it. So what do you need to know about teaching in Bulgaria?

  1. On a whole students have big hearts and are well meaning. This doesn’t always translate to them doing their homework. Go figure. Teenagers are teenagers everywhere!!
  2. At some point, you’ll have to write on a chalk board. This means that to erase it you will have to stick your hand in a bucket of water at the front of the classroom under the chalkboard to grab an over-sized soaking wet sponge to clean the board.  Bulgarian teachers will tell you to have your students do it but you won’t. Because you’re American.
  3. Students can’t imagine what you’re doing in Bulgaria. The problem is this: they can’t understand why you are here and the thing they want is to be anywhere but here–that goes for why you’re teaching them in their school, why you’re in Sofia and Bulgaria, or even why you’re traveling in Europe when you could be in America. They’ll ask you lots of questions about this. (more…)

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Teaching is Hard Work!

I’ve been so excited to be back at school. I’ve got a new bigger classroom this year, great new students and at the same time, I know all of last year’s students still. It’s good to be settling into a routine.

All in all the first few days of school are super. Except for this: I am tired.

I forgot how hard it is to stand on your feet all day, to engage all of your students even the shy ones, to try to remember all of their names and to stick to your lesson plans. I forgot that all of this makes you tired.

Wa, wa, wa. I know, I know.  It is the life of a teacher.

So here I am, sitting on my couch. I’ve got tired feet. And I’m yawning–a lot even though is only 9pm. On top of this, I don’t feel very funny or clever making blogging less than exciting. Sorry.

Yep, that’s what it comes down to. I am making tea. I am going to sit on my couch for maybe 20 more minutes and then, then I am going to bed. That’s how great my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I like teaching. I like my students. I like the routine of it. But I don’t like being tired.

Luckily these things too pass. Soon it will all seem second nature. And I’ll be going strong in the classroom and on the blog. Just give me a day or two. Okay? Thanks!

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I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: man, Balkan Dance is hard. I went back last night for the first time in months. Probably four months. That’s when I remembered how hard it is. And how bad I am at it.

Why is it hard do you ask? Well between my feet not doing what I want them to do, the seemingly completely irregular beat of the music and all of the dance directions coming at me in Bulgarian–Bulgarian national dance is difficult. And in addition to the class being difficult, I am not good at it.

I am the kind of not good that it’s clear that sometimes people don’t want to dance next to me.  Yeah. (more…)

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Today is my third first day of school in Bulgaria! Pretty cool.

It was a pretty great day. I am tired though.

School always starts here on the 15th of September. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a Monday or a Thursday. It always starts on the 15th. Okay, I am not really sure what happens when the 15th lands on a Saturday or a Sunday but that’s another story.

The thing is that the 15th isn’t really a school day as I know it in the States.  We don’t have our students sitting in their chairs, taking notes or anything else first-day-of-school like.  The 15th is like a celebration of school rather than school. (more…)

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Gasp. I woke up with a back-to-school nightmare this morning. It got me out of bed fast.  School started yesterday in Walla Walla and I think this may have something to do with it.

Kids were out and about in my neighborhood in their first day of school best and lugging backpacks behind them. The student crossing guards were out with their flags and yellow-orange reflective vests helping younger students cross the street.  Around schools even the cars had slowed down from their regular 30 miles an hour to 20 miles an hour between 7am and 4pm or so.  And the back to school ads on tv and in the news paper have dried up. School’s started.

It turns out that I no longer dream about forgetting my high school English homework, missing a final exam at university or finding a fellowship application on my desk under a folder after having mailed in the others the day before.  Apparently what I dream about teaching–an out of control classroom, not having photocopies for the first day and not being able to remember anyone’s names.  (more…)

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I’ve got a week of school things left and then I am free for the summer. I couldn’t be happier. This has been a great year. it’s been busy with plenty of ups and downs, books and essays, work and travel and lots of laughing students and colleagues. I am looking forward to having a little more time to myself, to doing some serious traveling and to seeing my family.

Summer break will be here before I know it.

Luckily I already know how I’ll be spending my summer. It’s going to be the thing keeping me going this next week. (more…)

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