Monday, July 28, 2008

First Week of Training

Well, I've managed to get through the first week of training. It really was quite a trial. In this organization they're constantly telling us to have lower expectations, and yet, silly me, I came in thinking I would have a chance to breath while I was here. Well, that moment sure never came in week one! Due to some odd scheduling decisions, there were only three of us alumni here for the first week, along with Kelly and Carice who are higher up in the administration. This means we all had plenty of teaching to do!
It's interesting to think of how the new teachers view us. Here we all, "experienced" in the ways of the organization, and somewhat "familiar" with life in our respective overseas countries. We hold a certain amount of power in our hands as we have information that is completely foreign, and highly important to them. And yet we're instructed to be vague. To give answers like: It depends. And in truth, it really does. We can't guarantee that things are even going to be the same for us in the second year, so how can we tell them just how it will be for their first.
The hard thing is that I'm really bad at giving vague answers. I might not always tell people everything that is going on in my head, but if people ask me how I'm doing, and I feel awful, I'll tell them that I'm still breathing, or surviving, or, at the very least, here. So to have them ask directly, "in your experience can you tell us how you felt about ..." it's really hard to somehow turn that into a horrible evasive answer culminating in further frustration for the new teacher and myself as well.
I totally understand the reasoning behind the structure, but that doesn't make it any easier to follow the model.
Fortunately I think I've been able to explain to most people that, while I have to respond to them in this sort of way, it's really not the sort of person that I am. And while there is a small amount of pleasure in withholding the teaching schedule until the last moment (which I am duty bound to do) that is mostly just because I know the horror that went through me every afternoon of training and I wouldn't want to deprive them of that experience with anxiety :)
All this to say, I'm exhausted and sooooo thankful that things are mellowing out a little bit this week. But only a little bit. I still have to keep things running smoothly for practicum. Last week we were in a new location and had only 8 or 9 students a night. Not very helpful when you have 18 new teachers, plus 5 alumni/staff observers. It meant some rather uncomfortable classroom settings for sure. Thankfully we are going to be back in the same place we were last year for the rest of the time. It will be sooooo much better. And we should be able to attract a lot more students there. I'm excited about the prospects.
So for now I'm just trying to keep it all together and enjoying the chance to get to know the people I'll be relating with over the next year.

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