September 01, 2014

First Day of School

I can't help but think of that scene in Finding Nemo:
That's not {quite} how it went in our house this morning... but I thought I'd share how the first day went... at least for me: a Jr. High-Homeroom-slash-Language-Arts-2nd-through-8th-grade-teaching-volunteer-as-a-missionary-in-Tanzania-and-momma-to-a-preschooler.

We arrived on campus at Hope International at 8:00am on the dot.  I walked to my classroom,  saying hi to students along the way.  Stopping to give my former (and also current, actually) student a hug.  She told me she couldn't stay, that she was sick and going to the hospital.  Sure enough, she had a rash all over and was shaking.  Poor thing.  I wished her well and gave her a hug goodbye - she'd come to school and waited for me to arrive to tell me she couldn't be there today.

With little Owen following close behind I made my way to my class.  He set up shop at Enoch's desk eating his pancakes - we had to wake him up this morning (not usual) and he didn't have time to finish his breakfast before we had to leave to pick up the couple of students that live near us on our way to school.

I quickly grabbed my computer and hustled across campus to the copy machine to print a couple last minute papers for the day.  On the way the admin caught me and asked if I minded switching TA's with another class - of course!  No worries.
View of campus from the stage - entrance gate to the right, my room is just to the left of the window straight ahead on the purple wall. 
Back in my class, I passed out the {pretty much required} first-day-of-school-about-me worksheet for the kids to work on when they came in the room.  Kids were wandering around checking out the classrooms, several 2nd/3rd graders came wandering in, thinking it was their class (as it was last year).  I quickly scribbled "Jr. High// 6th, 7th, 8th" on a bright orange piece of paper and taped it to my door - we hadn't thought about labeling the rooms... and every single class was in a new place.  Doh.

The whistle blew and I had 8 kids lined up at my door.
"Karibuni" I said, welcoming them in.  Four girls and four boys filed in the classroom. Three Tanzanians, two Americans and three siblings from India.  Three students were missing today, one still in America on furlough, the one that went home sick, and one other new child I've never met.

Next up was a meeting on the stage for the school.  Ryan introduced all the teachers, staff and the new administrator, then led a round of "Oh taste and see" on the ukelele, followed by a song he'd written to Job 11:18-19 (the school verse).  We dismissed from the meeting and after my students stacked all the chairs we went back to class.  I hurried off to my first 'period' class- Language Arts with the 2nd/3rd graders.  I was greeted by 7 boys.  Sheesh.  One American, three Tanzanians, one Indian and two Koreans, one of which doesn't speak a lick of English.  Thankfully the boy sitting next to him could translate a little.  I know there were a few kids absent, but I think only one of the absentees was a girl.  Anyway, we breezed through the procedures, played a get-to-know-you game that took far longer than I thought, then struggled through the reading homework policy and before I knew it, break time had started.  I seriously underestimated how much time it takes for 2nd graders to do things.  Honestly - I don't miss this grade level.  Yea, I taught it for 6 years, but -whew, I underestimated how much I value self-sufficiency. :) Time for snack!

Back out to the courtyard for ugi and watermelon, and a few minutes of play time for the kids.  I tried to get my bearings, went over and said hi to Owen, as is tradition during snack time, then headed back to my room to regroup.  Couldn't believe how fast the day was going.
Second period started with the 4th/5th graders, 10 students:  9 girls.  1 boy.  Poor thing.  :)  Four Tanzanians, two Indians, one Korean (also speaks no English), two Americans, and one Britt.  I was excited for this class.  We played a fun get-to-know-you game, talked about procedures then went over reading homework and BAM! - time for break again.  Sheesh!  I had hardly gotten through half my plans for this class too!  I ran into Francis in passing and we both had that wind-blown-where-is-the-time-going look on our faces... glad I'm not the only one!

While the kids took a 15 minute play and bathroom break I got my bearings again, took a sip of my coffee - and got ready for 3rd period, back in my homeroom to teach the Jr. High-ers Language Arts.  We did a quick run over the procedures, played another get-to-know-you game then went over reading homework... and what do you know there were still 20 minutes to spare!  I couldn't believe it!  We actually had time to go over the vocab and play one more game.  I was elated to actually get though my plans for at least one of my classes!  We wrapped up then headed to lunch.

After all 70-something kids had their beans, rice and chapati, I hopped in line, grabbed my food and headed to the 'library' to eat - just like last year.  I admit, I cried a little bit on the inside when my comrades from last year didn't file in :(  Memories, memories.   Oh well, Allie and I put the 2nd couch back together and a few others joined in the lunch break.  After about 10 minutes we all rushed our separate ways to get things done before class began again. I gathered my things, grabbed Owen and headed out at 1pm.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I get to come home so he can get a nap and work from home for the rest of the day.

Since I was already planned for the rest of the week I opted to do housework.  I grabbed the trash and compost, threw it in the pit in the corner of our yard and set it on fire.  Then I washed the bins out at the hose by the banana trees, came inside and washed dishes from dinner the night before and breakfast that morning.  Noticed the clothes on the drying rack in our living room were dry so I folded them and took them to their respective rooms before finally sitting down with my cup of coffee I'd poured that morning, I threw in some ice since hot coffee was completely out of the question at this point.

The first day was good.  Honestly, it flew by so quickly I barely had time to breathe.  I'm most looking forward to my two older classes, I'll be honest.  I love kids of all ages, but I much prefer the older variety in a classroom these days.  :)  I'm really honored to be able to teach at this school again, and I absolutely love the diversity and opportunity there is to share Jesus at this school.  In my homeroom alone I have four muslim students - and I got to have a great conversation with their parents this morning about how the education quality is higher because of the low teacher-student ratio, and how the kids all get to work together in the mixed-grade environment to help and learn from each other.  It's not only about revealing Jesus to the non-Christians though, it's about showing all of them the unconditional love of the Father and what it looks like to walk and live in that every day.

I know this is where God has me right now and I'm totally willing to "cope & adjust" to our new schedule and roles this year - it's our motto on the missions field and being flexible is pretty much a job requirement.
I mean, I hardly have room to talk... my husband is teaching KINDERGARTEN!  :-D