Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 2, 2013

It wasn’t raining this morning, but the same dreary gray day faced me as I made my way to the Pedagogical Institute for the second day of the spring seminar. I hadn’t paid much attention to the landmarks yesterday as the snow and the cold had forced me to walk very fast and this morning I couldn’t remember where I needed to turn.

I ended up in my old neighborhood and needed to walk really fast to be at the institute by nine since I was the first presenter and I knew no one else from Forum would be present to even do a warm up on my behalf. I ran into one of the teachers nearby, and we walked together the rest of the way. Only half of the teachers were waiting when I stepped inside.

I opened up the session by pairing the teachers according to their “Famous Pairs’ cards and then had them answer a warm up question. I then explained the origins of the functional approach to teaching a foreign language and quickly switched to the topic of pragmatics and examples of speech acts that embodied that particular approach to teaching.

The teachers enthusiastically read their scenarios and offered their approach to the problem. Asia came in then and after our coffee break offered her session on classroom management. She came accompanied by another African-American guy, Daniel, who stayed long enough to join us for lunch at the same Turkish café as yesterday.

I had a bowl of red lentil soup and some of the spinach pie. We didn’t get tea this time and the bread wasn’t toasted. Daniel opted for a clear broth soup with some pelmeni in it and Asia had a salad. Daniel had just completed his doctorate in neuroscience, he didn’t look old enough to have done so, and was taking a rest from studying.

I left the two of them there and returned to the institute to see Elvira’s presentation on teaching speaking. She had started on time and was in the middle of an activity when I walked in. She never mentioned what the object of the activity was and the instructions were very confusing. When I suggested using the timer to control one activity, she balked at it.

Asel followed with a presentation on teaching grammar and used the same approach as for the winter session where she gathered a small number of attendees at the front and asked the rest to serve as observers. I really dislike this approach since her voice barely carries at the front and those at the back get restless and bored. I nodded off a couple of times.

It was that time again to distribute certificates, have countless photos taken and receive tokens of appreciation. I had to take all the certificates and pens for the Peace Corps volunteers as none of the made it to the closing ceremony. We were treated to some musical numbers provided by the first year students and after a group photo on the steps of the building, I was able to start heading home.

A young teacher insisted on walking with as she was also heading in my direction. I bought a few daffodils from a seller at the corner and stopped at Narodni to buy sugar and Nutella for my breakfast. Saida insisted on walking with me until I reached my building, and we agreed to have coffee at some point in the future.

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