"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaching in Istanbul: Final Assessment

This is My Journey Westward's 200th blog post!  Whee.

And now it's time for the follow up to one of the most negative, demoralized, and vitriolic posts I've ever written on here.  My final impressions on what it was like to teach English for four months in Turkey.

While I came away from this experience not feeling quite so demoralized as I had been one month in, I'm still pretty damn grateful that it has come to a close.  I'm glad I didn't let it beat me, back when things weren't their best.  I saw it through.

And yesterday when I went to pick up my final paycheck, my company's Program Coordinator made a point to thank me for seeing it through.  What's more, he asked for my opinion on whether native teachers should be placed at my particular school in the future, and I gave him my honest answer.  He shook my hand, and we parted on the best of terms.  I may have had my fair share of both good and bad experiences while in Istanbul, but I can honestly say that Leeds  has been wonderful to me from start to finish.  I literally could not have survived my four and a half months here without their help and support.

1st Grade:
Initially the hardest to reach and to control, things improved drastically once my request for a Turkish aide was granted.  It made just the hugest difference.  I still was the one who taught -- I made up the worksheets and I ran the lesson, but my Turkish co-teacher was there to explain directions when they didn't understand my charades, and to translate when they wanted to tell me things.  This ranged from "Teacher I saw you at lunch!" (Hooray?) to "Emirhan stole my blue colored pencil and now I am going to throw the world's hugest tantrum about it, while Emirhan has hysterics of his own because he feels he's been falsely accused."

Class 1-B was kind of a pain in the ass.  But they're univerally regarded as being so by the entire school, so I didn't take it personally.  And overall, the kids are adorable.  Most of them.  About a month ago, the three 1st Grades put on their big End-Of-Year Show, and it was a HUGE deal.  I actually thought it was kind of a lot of pressure to put on these little ones -- something like two and a half hours of various skits, songs, and dances, complete with a myriad of costume changes.  But the kids all did amazingly, and it was so much fun to get to see.  I was really proud of them.

I'd been working with Sarah and their Turkish English teacher on preparing three songs/skits for each class to do.  Boys only, girls only, and then the whole class together.  For some reason I don't seem to be able to upload the video I took, but you can get some idea of the cuteness from the photos at least.

The guy in the big Rumi fez was my favorite first grader.  I will miss this one for sure!
Don't you just love their little outfits???
Class 1-C
Boys getting ready to do their "English Soldiers" skit
I loved this little guy.  Berke.  Adorable and smart as hell. 
Girls doing their "Greeting Song"
Second Grade:
The most enjoyable classes from start to finish.  Couple of troublemakers, but overall these were the classes I looked forward to the most.

Third Grade:
Unquestionably the most frustrating.  That first teaching post I did, when I was ready to set everything on fire?  A direct outcome of one particular lesson with third graders.  Ironically, I raised such enormous (and justified) hell over what had happened that the class got the smack laid down on them like I've never seen.  They were angels for the rest of the year.  Angels.  And... we ended up really liking each other and getting along.  They wrote me little love notes and I let them go to lunch early.  We had worked out a rapport.  It was pretty satisfying.

Unfortunately, my other two third grade classes sucked utter rocks.  One class in particular... I just don't know.  We were like oil and water.  Nothing I did seemed to reach them, and I did try.  Oh well.  Can't win 'em all.

SO... at the end, I would say I enjoyed and felt productive in approximately 5.75 of the eight classes that I taught.  Two third grades and probably about a quarter of class 1-B were a wash.  I guess that's not the most terrible of records to be going home with, but I do wish it hadn't had to be quite such a trial by fire the first two months or so.

But at any rate, I'm not giving up on this.  I may have had more challenges at this particular posting than I ever expected, but I believe I really did make the best of it and maybe even managed to be a positive influence to a few of my young students.  I certainly was getting a regular influx of love notes from Class 3-C by the end.  I'm going to keep traveling and keep teaching overseas, because this is quite literally the only job in my adult life that I've ever been happy doing.  The only time where I was able to say that any sacrifices are well worth it.  I feel clearheadded and ready.  Bring it, world.

And, even though I didn't need a reminder, the other day Buzzfeed very kindly posted a list of 23 Reasons Why I have NO INTENTION of Coming Home to Get a Real Job.  Thanks, Buzzfeed.  And, I guess, thanks Ursula.  It always does come back to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment