So last week was my first full week in school. Growing up as a kid I was never the most popular kid in school. Yeah, I had my solid group of friends but I definitely was not the popular star in the class. Well, that all as changed. For the first time in my life I feel like the most popular kid in school. All the kids know my name, everyone wants to say hi to me, and I never am left to sit alone in the classroom. Every corner I turn, I know a shrill “Hi Molly, Hi Amanda,” is awaiting me along with a bright smile and eager eyes.
The first week went a lot better than I expected. The only really difficult thing is that the levels vary so much in each class. There are students who have lived in American so they speak perfect English and those who don’t know the ABC’s and then there’s everything in between. As I mentioned in my last post, it seems like its impossible to create a lesson plan that would suit the needs of all the students. Based on my observations there are students that are either sitting there bored to tears because they already went ahead in the workbook while the teacher caters to the weaker students, or the opposite: students sitting there like deer in headlights having no idea what is going on while the teacher only speaks English. I’m not blaming the teachers at all. I am in awe of my host teacher and what she does every day, always managing to have a smile on her face after 6 hours of chaos. It’ll be better once Amanda and I start pulling students out of class in a more organized manner. That way we can work with specific groups, whether they be strong or weak students, while the teacher works with the other group.
I definitely already have my favorite students. I tried not to, but I just couldn’t help it. There is this one little boy that is literally my obsession. He’s in the 5th grade, which makes him 10 years old. He is the smallest boy in the class, has the chubbiest cheeks, and still has a little baby voice. He was considered pretty weak by the teachers, but I worked one on one with him one day and realized that he was actually a lot stronger than everyone thought. Although he didn’t know that many words in English, he continuously flipped to the glossary in his book to find the English equivalent of the Hebrew word he was thinking of in order to communicate with me. I was amazed that he was trying to hard, that he really wanted to speak in English with me. Today, he went up to the teacher and told her to tell me that he has been doing so well in class and feeling so good about his work because of my help. Ugh. Like I almost died when I heard that, not only because he is my favorite little mush of a student but because I realized I actually am making a difference with these students.
Another perk I discovered during my first week is that Amanda and I have our own classroom. We spent almost one whole day last week rearranging the desks, gathering supplies, and decorating it. Many of the fellows on our program don’t have their own classroom, so we were definitely very excited to know that we had our own space to take the students when we teach them. And did I mention the room as air conditioning!!! We made posters to hand up all around the room with basic English phrases on them (the months of the year, numbers, common questions, days of the week). Just some basic things that the students can look when they need a refresher, or forget how to say Monday when talking in front of the whole class. We definitely tried our best to make the room look good, as it is our second home for the next ten months.
I do have a great story of the week. I was on the bus late (well not too late only 8pm) last Thursday night going to Tel Aviv to see my boyfriend. I had my headphones in and was playing on my phone so I was totally oblivious to anything that was going on around me. But soon, I realized that we had been stopped at the same place for a long time, much longer than the usual stop to pick up and drop of passengers. I look up and see some lady flailing her arms around, an old man bouncing a soccer ball off of his head, and the bus driver on his phone walking off of the bus. There were only about 6 people on the bus, but I was sitting all the way in the back and the only door open was the one all the way at the front. So basically, there was no way to get off the bus without passing whatever was going on with this man and lady. Plus, I don’t think we were stopped at an actual bus stop, just pulled over on some random part of a road in Tel Aviv. I turned around and asked the three people sitting behind me (all of whom looked my age) and asked them if they by any chance spoke English. They did. In fact, the boy in the group (the other two girls were Israeli) grew up a few towns over from me in New Jersey and had just moved to Rishon to join the army. What are the odds? Anyway, they told me that the old guy was causing some sort of scene and the lady complained to the bus driver who proceeded to call the police. Before I knew it, three cops boarded the bus and were talking to this old guy. I tried to snap some pictures but they all came out blurry. In the end, the cops let the old guy stay on the bus and we went on our way. He ended up getting off a few stops later. It just seemed like he was a crazy old man and the lady was making a fuss out of nothing. If there was a senile old man bothering me on an empty bus I would have just moved my seat, but I guess that wasn’t good enough for this lady. I ended up getting to my boyfriend’s fine, only 45 minutes late.
This is only a two day week for school, as Wednesday starts the Rosh Hashana vacation. I’ll be in Tel Aviv most of the week. Happy New Year everyone!