Highlights: First Week of School

A busy first week of school was capped off by a gorgeous Friday morning — as I trotted to the track for sport club at 6:45am, I breathed in the fresh, crisp, post-rain air with elation: I live for mornings like this. Now on to some highlights of my first week and upcoming plans:

  • I will be teaching 16 hours a week (16 lessons — meet my classes below!), which may not sound like a lot, but I have five hours of English club outside of lessons (1.5 hours each for two groups of pupils — 5th-7th and 8th-11th forms — and two hours for adults).
  • I’ll also be leading FLEX preparation with 8th-10th-formers. FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange Program) is funded by the U.S. Department of State and gives high school students from former Soviet countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine — the chance to live and study in the U.S. for one year. The testing and application rounds are rigorous but many pupils are chosen every year. My job will be to teach lessons for the eight weeks leading up to the first round tests — we’ll cover essay-writing, test-taking, and American culture. I am excited to help prepare my pupils and hope at least one of them gets chosen for the program.
  • Lastly (for now), I’ll help my colleague, Diana Dmytrivna (I will call her DD in future posts) — the senior English teacher in our department; the majority of the classes I teach are hers — prepare pupils for the Olympiad competitions in English. They must complete speaking, listening, reading, and writing tasks. The first round is in schools this fall and the pupils with the highest scores advance to the regional, oblast-wide, and national competitions.

It’s amazing how each group of pupils has a different character and dynamic, among themselves and with the teacher. (Keep in mind I teach only the strongest pupils, except for the 3rd form where I teach them all.) Would you like to meet my classes? Read on!

  • : I love these little munchkins! They are so eager to learn and participate. It’s a big — 27 — and sometimes-noisy class, but they’re 7-8-year-olds so that’s expected. I team-teach them with my colleague, Natalia Mykhailivna (she will be NM), who also works at the Methodological Cabinet in my town (Janira and I work closely with her and the Met Cab). This week NM was at a conference so I taught alone, reviewing everything we taught the kids last semester. To my delight, they remembered a lot! And a couple pupils who were mediocre last year have really stepped it up in terms of participation and knowledge. I cannot wait to see how they progress this year.
  • 5A: This is a new class for me, one that DD really wanted me to teach last semester. So far they’re a big quiet but definitely eager to learn and show what they know. I don’t think I’ll have any problems with this group.
  • : These pupils take a lot out of me. A big group of smart, extremely energetic and eager kids. They speak too much Ukrainian in class and some get attitudes if I don’t call on them all the time. I must be stricter with this group.
  • 7A: One of the highlight classes of my weeks. Smart, engaged, and enthusiastic pupils who are just genuinely nice and fun to work with. Many of them come to English club. I rarely have to speak Ukrainian in class.
  • 8A: Another nice group of pupils, but they aren’t quite as accurate as 7A. Grammar is hard for them, but they are eager to practice their English. There’s a bit of an ability gap even among the strongest pupils that come to me, so they can be a little difficult to work with.
  • 8B: I like this group. Their English teacher is Nadia Yaroslavivna (henceforth NY). They are a quiet group — either shy or “too cool” — but speak nicely and seem to enjoy having class with me.
  • 9B: Like 6б, this groups is sometimes rowdy and uses a little too much Ukrainian for my liking. Also, like 8A, there’s a bit of an ability gap even among the strongest pupils. But I like them. They are funny, likable, smart, and interesting to speak with.
  • 10A: I love this class. Hilarious kids with fantastic English; they always get me laughing during lessons. They are so interesting to speak with and are at the age where, while they have their own views, these views are still developing and so they’re open to new ideas and other opinions. I’m excited to work with them again this year and a lot of them will probably do FLEX prep with me as well.

In other news, my marathon debut is in a week and at this point I just want to finish it and move on. Produce at the bazaar is still so cheap: tomatoes sit at 2 UAH ($0.25)/kilo, beets are cheap again, apples have arrived, and I’ve found kale! It feels like fall is here.

How has your fall begun?

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