Thursday, February 7, 2013

February 7, 2013

As promised, I made my way to Elvira’s class so I could observe her methodology and subsequently provide her with a letter of recommendation. She came to meet me in front of the building and escorted me to another broom closet of a classroom with enough seats for exactly twelve students sitting at individual chairs. There was a small whiteboard on a corner and that was that as far as audio/visual equipment was concerned.

Elvira spent the class guiding the students through the introductory biography sketch of Mary Shelley before proceeding to have them read the preface to “Frankenstein”. Everyone mispronounced the name, using the Russian way, and correction was never offered. All the sentences written on the board contained mistakes in both spelling and punctuation marks, but then again no corrections were offered.

I gave Elvira feedback while having a portion of cold plov and insipid potato salad in the cafeteria and offered a few suggestions for avoiding the dead time waiting for students’ responses. I had not been clear at all as to what the goal of the lesson had been and a lesson plan was never forthcoming. I plan on doing a second observation next week and hope to see some improvement.

I had run out of paper and couldn’t print the handouts for today’s session. My email to the dean had gone unanswered, so I contacted one of the young teachers to help me out and she agreed to print them for me. I got to the university with fifteen minutes to spare and was immediately whiskered into the faculty’s meeting room as they were having a banquet there.

One of the teachers had had a death in her family and her colleagues put on this banquet as a sort of wake for the soul of the departed. The teacher in question was dressed in black and I asked if she was doing so as a way of mourning, but she said no. Only wives were expected to dress in black or blue to show they were in mourning in this culture and they would do so for only one year. I got to try a new dish from the Dungan cuisine called “funchosa” that looked and tasted very much like our chow mein.

The workshop in itself seemed to go well with my dividing the time into finishing the classroom management first and having them complete the survey on classroom management practices and sharing their findings with their partners. Many of them admitted their results had fallen into the “Poor” category thus indicating they were failing to practice the type of behavior that would insure learning would take place at all times.

The second half was taken up with my giving them a glimpse of what Bloom’s Taxonomy was all about as once again none of these teachers had been exposed to it. I could see many heads bobbing along as I pointed that the type of actions they regularly took to ascertain students had learned the material fell into lower order questioning and testing which demanded a mostly passive role for their learners.

I showed them how, by using higher order learning strategies, the students could become independent learners and the teacher more of a coach or facilitator who would work alongside them to unleash their creativity and ability to come up with a finished product. As usual, I promised to email them the entire presentation so they could peruse it at their leisure.

I walked back home in the brilliant sunshine stopping once again for staples at Narodni and then got home to crash in the living room couch. I must have slept for a scant twenty minutes when a group of people, including some shrieking children, came up the stairs and started another form of racket that was to stay around until the late evening.

My head felt as it was in a fog and I could barely look at my computer screen. I’m afraid I might still need to take antibiotics, something I really hate to do, but my allergies/cold seem to be lingering around for too long.
Willoughby and I had played phone tag all day and finally got to speak so we could compare notes about our days so far. She had received the announcement about an American hip-hop artist presentation on Sunday afternoon and the subsequent ballet that same evening. I told her I needed to wait and see how I felt before making a decision.

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