Jan 26, 2011

During Which the Author Finds Himself Creating a More Interesting, Albeit, Nonsensical Moral to Accompany a Rather Anticlimactic Story

Sometimes, after I do something, I wish I could go back and make it a goal for this year. For example, I could have included something like, "Visit a friend in a foreign country," for my 2010 goals.

At the moment, I'm wishing that I had included, "Become a curriculum coordinator," to my list of goals for 2011, because I would already have one goal done.

Since school was canceled these two weeks, this second week has been staff development/work days. Not the best way to spend a break, but still good.

Until now, there has been no curriculum for any classes. For anyone who knows anything about education, that's a pretty serious fault. There's no accountability for the things being taught.

This week, we're coordinating the curriculum for middle school (Grades 4, 5, and 6). It's a lot of work, but it's also pretty rewarding, as this will stand for years after I'm no longer here (Extreme side note: I'm currently pursuing employment with two school systems, one in Japan (as mentioned previously) and the other in China. Both look really great, but I'm feeling China a bit more. I'll post more about it as I find out more.). It's also a bit daunting to be in charge of the entire educational system for three years of these students' lives!

Pretend Moral of the Story: It really IS best to look before you jump to conclusions! That way, you never land in a frying pan full of soggy bacon and fried turnips wondering what the outcome would have been if you had purchased the polka-dotted cardigan rather than the pin-striped pullover.

Jan 13, 2011

Wow. Thanks Nigeria.

So, a week ago, the Nigerian government gave its country a few days' notice before closing down all schools, public and private, until February 8th for voter registration. The public schools are being used as registration sites.

My principal, legitimately concerned, called a contact at the Ministry of Education to see if we could get an exception since our school had already resumed for the term, and since we were not a registration site. We were given permission to continue school as usual.

Today, we found out that tomorrow will be our last day of school for a few weeks. The permission has been revoked and other schools that had been given permission have been forced to close (picture policemen with AK-47s entering the school and forcing the schools closed, and you'll have a good idea of what has been going on). Thus, we will be closing to keep this from happening at our school.

The solution? Hand out 2 weeks' worth of homework tomorrow (that's a LOT of work to do in one night). Take away the week-long spring break. Extend the third term into the summer, putting us teachers finishing school around June 26.

Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else? I find it hard to believe that a government can just close schools like this. I also find it hard to believe that I have to do 2 more weeks' worth of work to make up for it (2 weeks worth of homework, plus another 2 weeks of school with no breaks). Really, I kind of want to quit when my contract says I'm done (June 12).

I had been planning on visiting Australia and New Zealand this summer during the summer break. Now, however, my time at home in Minnesota would be too short. I would have only 2-3 weeks at home before shipping out to __________ School in _________ country. I guess I'll have to save Oz and the Middle-Earth for another time (that's right. I was just that nerdy). Maybe I'll try to do a short trip within Africa at the end of June instead.

I hope that everyone else has a better day than me.

Jan 4, 2011

On Long, Boring, and Frequently Unfulfilling Processes

Coming soon: A Tendril of Thought blog from a new, undisclosed location! What does this mean? I will not be teaching in Nigeria next year. Do I have a job lined up yet? Nope.

So, I've started it again. The long, drawn out application process. I have now sent my resume and CV to twelve schools in the Middle East (mostly Saudi Arabia) and East Asia (Japan and China). It's not fun to A) look for schools that are hiring for a position that I am qualified for/want to teach (no Kindergarten for me, please), or B) getting no response from most of the applications. Which is understandable. But still not fun.

I realize that 12 doesn't really sound like that many. But several of them (like the one I just sent) have had multiple page applications to go with the resumes and cover letters. Awesome.

One of my favorite responses so far went like this: "We have reviewed your application and have not found that your qualifications meet any of our available positions at this time. Please understand that this is not a commentary on your personal skills or teaching method, but rather that there is no open position for you. Thank you for your inquiry." So polite and . . . encouraging?

I have an interview tonight for a school in Yokohama, Japan. Please pray for guidance during the whole process! Thanks!

Jan 2, 2011

About the Upcoming Year

Goals for 2011

1. Become a better teacher by: a) becoming more consistent with grading, and b) being more firm with classroom management.

2. Memorize the first two chapters of Philippians.

3. Visit a new continent and three new countries.

4. Write and finish at least two short stories.

5. Take 30 good portraits.

6. Read the following books:
- War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
- Godric - Frederick Buechener
- Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
- Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
- Middlemarch - George Eliot
- For Whom the Bell Tolls - Earnest Hemingway
- Bleak House - Charles Dickens
- One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- On the Road - Jack Kerouac
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne
- The Twelfth Night - William Shakespeare
- Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
- Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
- Remembering Laughter - Wallace Stegner
- 15 other "new-to-me" books. I'm open for suggestions.