Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Twice Insulted (and Emily work update)


I have been dying to write, but things have gotten VERY busy around here.  Still, a few of you have noticed, and anyway, there is SO much to do that it is the perfect time to procrastinate.

First of all, I just have to share a little story:

In the land that invented the cell phone and the defibrillator, that broadcasts up to date TV series from America and Europe, and that releases Harry Potter books and movies before they arrive in the US, one thing has not made it across the ocean to our borders -- the concept of political correctness.  

So I walk into the teacher's room at the school where I teach, and the teachers and principal are in a heated debate (this is saying it nicely...).  I don't totally get what's going on, though what I gleaned from afterwards is that they were discussing their tradition that for the Purim carnival every year, teachers go out and solicit prizes for their classes from local neighbors and businesses.  It seems that one woman didn't feel right about doing this, and she was suggesting that the different classes sell foods for the carnival, and then pool all the profits and get the same prizes for everyone in the school (or something like that).  This is all background.  The part where I walked in was when the principal screamed, "What are we-- kibbutzniks?!?!  WE ARE BETTER THAN KIBBUTZNIKS!!!!"

After the meeting, as I was sitting there trying to decide if I was insulted (OK, I was really just sitting there giggling...), I overheard another conversation where teachers were creating a test, and they were debating the pros and cons of using "American questions."  Raise your hand out there if you know what an "America question" is.  OK, I'll just tell you-- that is what they call here multiple choice questions.  Tell me-- did America really invent the multiple choice question?!?!?!  [(a) yes, (b) no, (c) who cares?] And is that supposed to say something about us?  [(a) yes; (b) no; (c) probably, but I don't know what].

And people just have no idea how what they are saying will be perceived by the people around them.  Or they don't care....

Now then, about being busy:

The year started relatively slowly, with me not working, hoping to take the year off to write.  Soon after the school year started, I got a call from a woman asking if I would teach for her.  She coordinates teachers in the area who pull small groups out of their English classes to work with them.  She wanted me to take 2 jobs, but I agreed to one, to leave time to write, and to make sure I like the work.

Shortly thereafter, I got a call from my kids' school asking if I would teach an advanced English class for a group of kids in this special accelerated program -- one afternoon a week.  no problem.  Fun, even.

Then I signed up for a writing course on line -- it's actually a manuscript workshop for a children's book I have been working on.  After I discovered the course on-line, my friend Tzippy from Toronto  actually recommended the course to me (not knowing I already knew about it and had contacted the teacher...).  And guess what-- Tzippy is in my class with me!  Very cool! 

Between the time when I signed up for the course and it started, I got another call asking me to teach English at a home for girls in distress.  They want me to prepare girls for the big high school English exams (the bagrut).  One of the girls actually has a really good shot at passing the highest level exam (which is very unusual there), but they haven't been about to find someone else to teach her.  I don't have any experience with these exams, which are a really big deal here, and I told them that, but they hired me anyway.  I had no idea what I was getting into-- just finding out what will be on the exam has been a full time research project.  I finally think I know what it will entail-- a few unseen texts with questions, a few compositions, a project that she must do ahead of time (and getting the task for the project was one of the hardest, as I finally discovered that the reason the information is not readily available is because the teacher usually picks the task, but I am not qualified, and she's not really in a school, but someone finally helped me out and gave me a project...).  After the project, she will need to pass an oral exam, which will be partly about the project.  By the time she does all this, I feel like they should give her a PhD!  

I work there also with 3 other girls who are amazingly delightful, and I just love it!!!  One girl was complaining about how studying English is always boring, and she doesn't want (but there's a limit to how interesting a teacher can make the work when the results-- the big exam at the end-- have to be very specific).  I made a deal with her that I would bring a pop song every week to share at the end of the lesson.  The girls all love this, and they also do great with the work.  The other girl in her class is highly motivated to pass her exam (which she won't be ready for for awhile, but she has amazing vision to stick with it anyway...), and she keeps the pace of the class going great.  Then the other girl I teach independently.  She is really starting form the very beginning, and it is hard to imagine that she will really get to a point where she is ready for the exam, but she is so sweet, and really fragile, and even remembering a word from one page and applying correctly on the next is a big deal, but she appreciates it.  I really love it there.  The director keeps telling me that the girls are doing great and they love the class, and that I have to come back next year.  But I have only been there a few weeks, so we'll see.  Like, we'll see how the first girl actually does on her bagrut....

So now that I have 3 different jobs that I basically really like, all of which require me to be an English teacher, I am rethinking my earlier decision not to pursue that route officially (which would entail a teacher's certificate course and a course in 6 basic Jewish disciplines for olim).  Both of these course were offered for free to olim (immigrants), and I didn't o them because they are far away and the hours are inconvenient.  But they don't know when they will offer them again.  BUT they told me that I could join one class late (the Jewish disciplines), starting NEXT SUNDAY.  I am DREADING the commute (it's in Haifa, where I always ALWAYS get horribly lost) , and it doesn't leave me much time for preparing for the other stuff and writing, but I think I gotta do it.  

And did I mention that Shai/Shmuel's bar mitzvah is exactly two months from today? [(a) yes; (b) no; (c) Eek!!]  Have I done anything to plan for it?  [(a) zip; (b) zilch; (c) nadda].  Ross and Shmuel have been working like crazy to get his readings down and everything, but it is time to get moving on that (with all my free time).  

So that's basically why I haven't been writing more, but I am realizing now that I owe y'all the story of my last adventure to Haifa to the Employment counseling center.  But I don't think I can write more now, and I can't imagine you want to read more now (It is 11:40 at night, for goodness sake!), but I will try to write it up soon, before I forget all the details, and have to make them up, like I did here.  Did I just say that out loud?  just kidding!



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