Note: I have had very limited internet the past couple weeks but I do have some posts that I will get up when I have access to internet.
I’ve been working a couple of hours a day at the school since I arrived at site. My partner teachers are still on vacation, so I go and hang out in the library with Elena, the librarian. I’ve gone through the first unit of all of the English textbooks to take notes and get some ideas, but I really don’t have a whole lot to do yet. I spent two days this week working on a painted poster for the library- a big, bright book. Because posters are very expensive and teachers have to pay for all supplies (except perhaps a couple of pieces of chalk), the walls are pretty bare in many classrooms. The classrooms are also, in the words of fellow EE volunteer Alex, “pale colors galore”. In my school, almost all of the classrooms have the lower part of the walls covered in various wallpaper- each room is different. My school director has already told me to make our English classroom more pretty (especially as they’ve already figured out that I can draw and paint fairly well). I have a few ideas for that, but I need to talk to my partner teachers first before I can implement them.
Last week, however, there was a scheduled work day with many, but not all, of the teachers, as it was an open house day. Parents and students came, as well as teachers, and we worked in separate groups (parents, students, and teachers) to discuss what the school does well, what needs work, and focus on the theme of “access and quality”. I was in the teacher’s group, and it was really interesting to see what a “conference” looked like in a Moldovan school. It reminded me a lot of teacher conference days in the United States- there were interactive activities, a brainstorming session, teachers worked in groups on different things, and at the end, everyone filled out a survey rating 30 different aspects of a good school. According to the answers the other teachers provided, the school has students that are very involved in extracurricular activities and faith activities, but maybe isn’t quite so strong at using current teaching methods and practices (I think, it was all in Romanian, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they said).
After each of the groups worked on their own for a couple of hours, we all crammed into a classroom (only 2 students attended, but quite a few mothers were there) for a presentation by Doamna Feodora, the school director. It was essentially a breakdown of all of the possible data from the previous school year- how many students in each class, how many students scored at different levels on their exams, how many teacher there are, those teachers’ credentials and educational attainment, how many classrooms, cafeteria, etc. and the square footage and capacity of each, how many students participated in each extracurricular activity, the outside organizations the school collaborated with throughout the year, basic budget figures, and so on and so forth. It was interesting to learn more about the school, but given how much information there was, the speed at which it was given, and the amount of numbers involved, I did struggle a bit to understand everything. After, there was a discussion with the parents (all mothers), which turned into a debate over school uniforms (I’m under the impression that students will be required to wear a school uniform this year and that this is a new rule). The parents were not in favor of the uniforms from I could understand.
It was a really useful day for me as I try to get a grip on how things work in the school, and it also gave me an opportunity to meet several of the other teachers. At the same time, it was pretty overwhelming- there were a lot of people speaking Romanian very fast, often at the same time, and it was definitely harder to understand than when I’m just speaking one-on-one with other people. I had a headache at the end from concentrating so hard. But I did understand almost everything that was said and went on, so I do feel that my Romanian is getting there!