Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First Day Jitters!

First Day Jitters

No idea what to expect, not worried about my schedule, my placement or what is going to happen. I went into the day fully ready to see what it had in store for me. I've learned not to ask what times things are but just wait to be told when to leave. I am never sure what is happening or when it is actually going to happen here in Samoa. But, school DID start on the day it was suppose to. My host mom is a teacher so it is easy for me to know when I need to get ready and go to school. We woke up early, put on our dresses (not a puletasi, score! Free wear the first week) and took our 5 minute walk to school. We arrived at 8 am, all the kids were also dressed in casual attire and playing in the yard.
We have 116 students but I think only 80 showed up the first day. The teachers had a meeting where I could only pick up 5 words from it and then my pule (Principal) and I went over a schedule for me. She wanted me to teach for only an hour a day from 7-8... School doesn't start until technically 9 and it's still dark until around 7:30... Plus, what students is going to get up early enough to leave for school before 7? BUT- I learned in Samoa it's best to agree and later with your solution find a way to have them think of that solution on their own. A bit manipulative I know however, that is how I have survived all my challenges so far. It only took me two weeks to convince them to give me the schedule I wanted. (Which is another post).
On the first day students come to school to clean up and get the school ready for the year. After our meeting, the students dashed around to clean the desks, sweep the floors and help the teachers organize their classrooms. I stayed back and asked my Pule what the meeting was about. She speaks enough English to be able to explain things, sometimes I have to ask the same question 4 or 5 different ways but at least we have some communication. I figured she wouldn't tell me all that happened whether she forgot something or does not think I need to know so I wrote down all the Samoan words I picked up on and asked her about each one. I think I got 80% of what the meeting was about, which is better than what I got during the actual meeting.
After she showed me my classroom. It is upstairs next to the library and two other classes are being held on the same level. I love my classroom! It was dirty from old glue, paper and dirt on the walls, garbage everywhere, the chalk board is a mess from probably years without a good scrub and there is a cabinet filled with junk, cobwebs... it really needed some work and I started right away.
As I was cleaning I thought to myself how I want my room to be set up and wishing I came to the school weeks before and my thoughts we interrupted by the male teacher Mr. Vau.
"Dangerous" holes.
Mr. Vau was saying sorry but he thinks I need to move rooms. I should use the room downstairs because the room I am in is not safe. I hated the idea of moving, I already had plans for this room and was comfortable.  I have very little control or say in my life for now and things are constantly changing, to have another thing change was almost heartbreaking. I asked what he meant and he started pointing around the room saying, "there are holes in the floors and mold on the ceiling. I don't want you to have to walk up and down the stairs in the sun and rain, plus the students might slip on the floor is they are wet."...
Okay. I think to myself, all the floors have holes, all the ceilings have mold and I can race anyone of you up the stairs and beat you before you even get half way up but instead of arguing I agreed and said I see the holes and I will go look at the room downstairs.
I hated it! I hated the new room. It is probably just as good as the other but my mind did not think so. I was finding all the negative things- It was too big, I would have to start over cleaning, I hate the set up with the chalk board, I loved being upstairs where it was quieter from the other classes, not to mention less traffic with the other students... I did NOT want to be here the next two years. I am sure I would have loved it if they gave me that classroom first but my mind was already made up on the original one.
I went back to my room upstairs and sulked for about 5 minutes before I realized this is my first challenge in the school and it is worth the fight. Somethings you do not fight for, like going to church or wearing this dress, eating that, going here but my room was necessary.
Students helping me clean.
Before Picture
He came back in asking what I thought of the room-
Me- "It's a lovely room, thank you for worrying about mine and the student's safety."
Vau- "Do not worry about cleaning up or decorating this room, we will have the students clean your room downstairs."
Process of cleaning, felt like living in
a UPS package.
Me- "Well I like the room but, I think it is best I am next to the library. It is not safe for me to walk up and down the stairs all day for the books I need." Then I went into how I will be very careful with the holes and mold (ALL CLASSES HAVE HOLES AND MOLD!), he agreed and said I should not move classes and it is safer for me to be upstairs.
I later realized the reason he wanted me to move, he wanted to use my room as a storage space for all the extra desks and benches that were already upstairs. It was too much of a problem to just MOVE all the furniture downstairs to that room... He was not even the one moving it! It was the students... ohhh my.
Doesn't matter- either way MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I get to keep my room!

Year 8 helping me with my classroom.
"What did we learn?" wall and
game cabinet.

Free hand drawing.
I regret giving high fives after realizing all
the germs. (Rookie mistake!)
It's all about the fist bump now. 
My individual reward system.

Class reward system.

Eraser and chalk holder.
NEVER would I have this in my classroom in the states.
Even if I was allowed I wouldn't!
But- trying to put up positive words,
ones they can relate to.
Check out that board!!
Scrubbed this thing!! 

Free hand drawing! 

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