I have now successfully completed my third official week as a teacher. I'm surprised to find, despite my natural inclination to dislike children, that I am enjoying myself immensely. Well, not so much the getting up at 6 in the morning part, but everything else.
My morning starts at 5:40 a.m., when I sluggishly crawl out of bed to flip the switch for the hot water, so it can heat up for twenty minutes before my shower. I then collapse back into bed and hit snooze. I hit snooze twice more and always manage to drag myself out of bed the second Heather jumps in the shower. Brilliant. So I normally pass the time eating breakfast and reading. Then Heather and I sleepily mumble good mornings to each other (El 7amdoLella [thanks to God] neither of us are morning people), and I jump in the shower. At about 7:15 a.m., if we are really lucky, we jump in a cab and head to school. Actually, I lie. That time is getting pushed back every day as we get lazier and lazier. But we try hard.
We get to school between 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. Then we sign in. Sometimes. On most days, we have back to back block lessons and one hour free at different times of the day. During my breaks, I can usually be found camped out in the way-overcrowded staff room either frantically grading writing assignments or reading a book. An extremely sweet elderly lady provides coffee, tea, hot water and za'atar sandwiches for us. She is my new best friend.
As for the lessons themselves, I usually wander around the back of the room and wait for Leen to finish the main lesson, so I can begin helping the girls that might need a little more explanation. Sometimes they don't need me at all. Most of the time, however, once they start working in groups or individually, I am overwhelmed with cries of "Ms. Gretchen, Ms. Gretchen," accompanied more often than not by tugs on my hands, arms, elbows and various other body parts. The hardest things to do are keeping track of who I help and finding time to get everyone the help they need. And I thought these girls would be shy!
I really love my students. They are bright, motivated, inquisitive and above all, absolutely adorable, which is why I have not killed every one of them on the days when they just refuse to shut up. I think it's nature's defense mechanism to make sure the species is repopulated: make the kids really cute.
Most of the time, Leen is in charge of class discipline. But on the occasions when I teach the class, that task falls to me. My background is overwhelmingly writing and grammar oriented, so we decided that I would teach all of the writing lessons in the curriculum. I also teach when Leen is tired, or when she isn't there, or whenever she or I feel like it. My discipline strategy so far is to yell "GIRLS" really loudly when they won't listen, though I am considering yelling variations on "OY," "YOU THERE," and "SHUT UP." Actually, my latest brainwave is to turn off the lights and glare until the room quiets down. I'll let you know how that goes for me.