Yesterday was my first day of school. I ambled into the office at about quarter to nine and made myself a coffee. We had the morning to plan and students were to arrive for afternoon classes. Because I am new to the university, I was assumed to be a 'support' teacher, meaning I am not responsible for a 'homeroom', but just to teach the subjects. 'Main' teachers are responsible for teaching the students for the majority of their lessons and serve as their 'homeroom' teacher. Support teachers were not responsible for teaching on the first day of school, so I was ready for another day of hanging out at my desk, getting my lessons ready. As a wandered into class, coffee in hand, I discover that I have been promoted to main teacher, I have my own class, and um, by the way, I'm teaching THIS AFTERNOON. Um....wow. Ok. Super. I am used to running my own classroom, and micro-managing the lives for 19 ten-year-olds, so having extra responsibility is not a big deal. I guess I just wasn't really ready. Ashamedly, I wasn't even dressed nicely for the first day of school. That's right, I'm actually wearing 'slacker pants' (jeans) and a nice top, which is actually considered fine in the university's dress code, but STILL, I would have put a little more effort forth had I have known I was meeting my students for the first day.
This was these guys FIRST day of university and it's in their second language...a language that's necessary to continue their studies at this super-prestigeous university. Can you imagine how excited/nervous/scared and possibly terrified they might be? One of my co-workers told me that when my students met me, it was the first time they'd have ever met a foreigner (Turkish people generaly don't get around much) aside from seeing them on tv (I was wondering if they watch Friends re-runs, too). So, in steps a blonde haired, green eyed, pale skinned foriegn girl from Canada who only speaks English. I can only imagine their fear. Did I mention that my students are what we call 'elementary' in the ESL world? They are beginners who have had a little exposure. They seem to know basic chunks of language, such as 'Where are you from?', 'I am from Ankara'.
My 'getting to know you' activities kind of fail, but we made it though. I discover that one of my students went to high school in France, so he speaks fluent French. Score! I can now have a conversation with one of my students. When there is MAJOR confusion, we can communicate in French and he can translate to Turkish for my students. I try not to abuse this brilliant coincidence, however, because they are here to study English. However, for mass confusion on the first couple days, Turkish explanations are acceptable.
I have 19 lovely, smart, mature students. They do not talk out of turn, they do not spit on each other, they do not throw pencils or chairs, they do not run away down the fire escape and I somehow doubt that my restraint training (that I had to know for my Emotional Behavioral Disordered children in England) will come in handy here. Nope, I doubt very much I'll need to pin one of these guys to the floor. My students speak to me with respect, they wait patiently, they listen to each other and they don't whine.
What was I doing in England?
Why haven't I come here sooner?