Not much to report today. I’ll do better tomorrow for reasons that will be clear. On Fridays I have 7 classes stretching from 9 am to 5 pm with 1 hour for lunch. In the morning this morning I had given the school some choices. They were:
- I teach only at the primary school with no preschool. That means not teaching on Mondays. In turn I would forego 1/5th of the negotiated salary.
- No preschool, but added hours at the primary school on Mondays. Originally negotiated salary.
- I take the next available flight out of Myanmar.
They had little choice. Option c was hardly in their best interests. They’d just fired one teacher and replaced him with me. I can’t see how firing me would have done them any good (except, perhaps saved some money). They don’t have anyone who can teach science in English – native speaker or otherwise. I was hoping for option a which is what they went with. I stayed completely out of it. I told my recruiter what I wanted and left it in his hands to negotiate (with the added point that if nothing were resolved over the weekend I would be out of Myanmar first flight on Monday). Of course they caved instantly. By lunch time they had met and picked option a with only minor details to iron out. Meanwhile I had my first lunch at the school. Normally I am finished by lunch time, but today was my first Friday when I teach all day. The chef is supposed to cook something special for me. It was indeed “special” – a revolting hamburger-type thing on a horrible white bread bun filled with a hard-cooked fried egg with lettuce and some sort of pink mayonnaise substitute. I ate it only out of politeness but told the lunch lady that in future I wanted only Myanmar food. Duly noted.
Today, classes got into the swing of actual content. For the past 2 days I’ve been introducing myself, giving class rules, and easing into things. Today we did actual work: magnets, flowers, respiration etc etc. All quite fun. My standard routine is (and will be) 5 minutes of talking about the topic of the day, experiment of the day, then workbook exercises. Falling off a log. How the teacher before me could screw that up is beyond me. Of course the class periods can vary, but the basic idea is in place. I also have to prepare a science fair for September for the parents to enjoy. Easy-peasy. Each class will have a showy experiment set up in a booth with class photos all around. I’ll make sure each booth looks impressive. Parents should eat it with a spoon.
Now to wax philosophical for a little. How does a distinguished university professor with a long research career and publications wind up teaching science to little children? Isn’t it a come down? No. It’s a lot of fun (although for how long is another story). Myanmar kids are great to teach. They are well behaved, eager, and curious. It’s easy to make them laugh too. For example, when I was talking about how ALL living things respond to stimuli I did things like suddenly growl like a tiger right up in a kid’s face or make a loud noise out of the blue. The kid I growled at backed off startled and the others howled with laughter. What’s not to enjoy? It’s just like being a parent, and I’ve got those credentials in spades.
I will admit that 7 hours in a day is rather longer than I want, but it’s only one day a week. The other days are 3 hours. I’m going to have to get more creative with experiments in the future to keep my own interest up. That means looking over the textbooks on the weekend so that I can be armed with bells and whistles on Tuesday. Should be fun.
More pagodas and the like over the weekend.The head picture is actually my school. It’s a lot nicer than it looks on the outside.
For now . . . to bed.