In the Classroom:
- My 5th Form pupils now feel comfortable enough with me that, when they come to class early — as almost all 5th-graders inevitably do — they gather around my desk and pepper me with questions and comments in “Ukrenglish”: how old are you? are you married? do you like dogs or cats better? I’ve seen you running by the river! It warms my heart — they are eager, excited, and still completely children at this age.
- I hosted my first English clubs this week! They were moderately successful. Still playing with the time of day, so hopefully more people will show up next week. But I host three different groups for an hour each: 5th-7th formers, 8th-11th formers, and adults. This week the theme was Valentine’s Day, as that’s coming up next week and Ukrainian kids love this holiday. We did a hilarious Madlib (“A conversation with Cupid”), a cryptogram (each letter corresponds to a different kind of heart, and you have to decode the message), and talked about various aspects of love and the holiday. Only two of my 9th-formers showed up, because they said the rest of their class thought I’d be grading them at English Club — “no way!” I said, “English club is fun; we play games and talk and there is no grading.”
- New classroom addition: a February “special days” calendar which contains month-long holidays (i.e., Black History Month, International Friendship Month), famous birthdays (Charles Dickens, James Joyce, Susan B. Anthony), and other holidays (World Nutella Day, Valentine’s Day). I also write my pupils’ birthdays on it. This calendar will serve to liven things up for my pupils and me by allowing me to hang up quotes and research famous figures and holidays for listening texts and class discussions.
- Watching the rapt expressions on my pupils’ faces as they watch the “Beauty and the Beast” song clip from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: priceless.
- Having a really interesting discussion about religion versus spirituality with two 10th-formers and an 11th-former during tutoring at the Methodological Cabinet for the English Olympiad competition.
Outside the Classroom:
- Seeing my new Ukrainian acquaintances, Zhenia and Tanya, again at the track. Zhenia repeated her invitation, “Приходить до нас!” (“come to our house”). When I have free time, I will definitely go see them.
- Discovering new roads in town on my weekend long runs.