Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blackboard compliments, last minute coffees, and runnin on empty

1. I walk into my first class today to find that Celia has drawn a formal looking paper on the board with the words, ¨Kat is a very good teacher.¨ She comes up to me and asks what the paper is called and I tell her, ¨scroll.¨ When I start the class, I notice it, look at her and she smiles.

2. On the way to our first lessons, Krista, David, and I stop into a cafe for some quick cafes con leche and hot chocolate. We have approximately five minutes before we start teaching, but in Spain, this is plenty of time to get a drink and warm up.

3. I have a cold and in the mornings, I can barely move without coughing or dabbing my nose. But somehow, once I get to work, I am able to work through it as if my body knows I need to be ¨on¨ and is functioning for me so that I can get through the day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

River ducks, listening, and planning

1. Seeing white ducks paddling around in the sunshine of the river below as I walk across the bridge to an afternoon-evening of teaching.

2. Listening to a colleague describe how she´ll spend her four day weekend in the south of Spain just walking through a national park, alone. Sounds soothing and peaceful. She describes how she´s unsure of going about it alone, but is motivated by the advice, ¨sometimes you just have to start something and from there, it will take care of itself.¨

3. Planning my own weekend trip to Segovia and looking forward to seeing new things.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Out, up a hill, out of town

1. Going out with one of my favorite people Saturday night.

2. Discovering a peaceful hill very close to but far enough away from the urban bustle of Valladolid. Then hiking up that hill, breathing fresh air and basking in spring like temperatures. From the particular view, the only historically Spanish building in sight was the bell tower. Everything else was identically modern and too practical looking. It could have been any country.

3. Seeing a different part of the city I temporarily call home. In the suburbs there are chicken huts with crowing roosters, intricate gates to actual yards, and winding stairs that cut through ivy and other overgrown plants. This is so unlike the blocks of apartment buildings in central Valladolid, that I feel as though I´m in a different city.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The boys, the breakdancers, and barrel o´laughs

The BOYS (from left top) - Diego, Diego, Jorge, Jorge, Pablo, Nacho,
and Javier. All students aged 8-10

Always dancin´, doing the splits, or cartwheels before the lesson starts:
(From left) - Andrea, Julia, Marina, Clara, Aihnoa, Ivan, and Eva.

Always giggling: (from left) Gonzalo, Guillermo, Jaime, Nico, David,
Maria, Laura, Miriam, and Elisa.

Good drivers, dreams, and January spring?

1. Two nuns driving a very small, red car let me cross the road when they have the right away.

2. I have a dream about the adult beginner English File book I teach from. Only in my dream, it´s used to help me save my life and especially for people in their 20´s, whatever that means. At the least, I´m amused.

3. Blue sky today and believe it or not, there´s a touch of warmth in the air that makes me think about that first spring day and how alive it makes you feel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Application complete, morning sleep, and almost there

1. Finishing my application for a teaching position in France next year and an email from my mom telling me it´s been sent off. Now to play the waiting game.

2. Being able to sleep in this morning because on Wednesdays I can. And really needing it, because I came home last night exhausted and with a sore throat.

3. Knowing that I´m halfway finished teaching for the week. I´ve made it over the hump.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Street cleaner, articulate, and grammar

1. On my way to International House this morning, I see an ordinary woman picking up trash on the side of the street. And she isn´t bearing the name, ¨limpiador¨ on the back of a bright yellow and black uniform.

2. I tried the ¨Articulate¨ game with my class of teenagers and they didn´t look like they´d pull out their teeth to curb boredom. The one where one kid has to describe a word (adjective, noun, verb, etc.) using relative clauses (Haha, I snuck in some learning) and the rest of the class has to guess the word. I barely spoke for the entire lesson. It was amazing.

3. Before above class, I ask David (Linguistic and Grammar Expert) what the difference between using ¨who¨ and ¨whose¨ is. The braniac twins (Teresa and Margarita) ask me the same question 10 minutes later. And thank God, I have an intelligent answer.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pirate hippo, last minute lesson, reBelation

1. My stuffed hippo is dressed up like a pirate when I come home, with eye patch and golden earring.

2. Not having planned a lesson for my fourteen year olds, I whipped up some discussion activities with useful expressions from a Timesaver worksheet I snatched in Hungary.

3. Christopher, my Spanish lesson buddy, suddenly realizes that all the ¨v¨ sounds in Spanish are really ¨b¨. Now, he can move forward with a newfound confidence.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fitzgerald quote, good ideas, and Kut

1. I read this quote and I could immediately identify with it. In ¨Tender is the Night,¨ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rosemary is walking through an old French battlefield with Dick Diver.

--Later she remembered all the hours of the afternoon as happy- one of those uneventful times that seem at the moment only a link between past and future pleasure but turn out to have been the pleasure itself.

This, in turn has made several little ¨uneventful¨ memories burst into my head.

2. The new Director of Studies asked me what I was teaching last night and when I told her reported speech for my First Certificate Exam class, she gave me a great idea and gave me a copy of the pilot episode of ¨Heroes¨to use for Thursday.

3. My adult students think that it´s hilarious how my name, ¨Kat¨ and the word, ¨cut¨ sound exactly the same. At first, they´re confused, but when I spell it out on the board and say it about 13 times, they start laughing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Seeing words, nonconfrontational teens, green tea

1. After learning ¨city vocabulary¨ in my Spanish lesson today, I promptly spotted one new word we learned on a sign on my way to teach my first English lesson. ¨Ayuntamiento¨ or city hall.

One of my students holds up a picture of a monster with big, grotesque feet and says something in Spanish. If it had not been for my lesson this morning, I wouldn´t have known that she wanted me to smell the monster´s feet. Since when do books publish stinky smells?

2. I write, ¨Men´s Jobs¨ and ¨Women´s Jobs¨ on the board for a class of fourteen year olds. They give me stereotypical answers, however, one boy goes onto say in English that maybe there are more older, male psychologists because it was acceptable and more likely for men to work this profession years ago, while younger psychologists may include more women, because times are changing. Other students went onto to say that men nor women are better teachers. It just depends on the person.

3. I´ve been on such a Coke Light binge that I forgot how a hot cup of green tea can warm you up from head to toe.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Uphill hike, student teacher, Spanish kids

1. Today, instead of taking the overcrowded 8 bus from the private school to the language school, I decided to walk the 40 minutes there. Because of this, my face is now rosy, I feel a rush from my heart working away to get me up the massive hills, and I saved 50 Euro cent.

2. Being a student and teacher simultaneously helps me to teach better and learn better. I´m still getting a kick out of ¨los consuegros¨ the word for grandparent-in-laws in Spanish.

3. Spanish children are better dressed than I am. Their little peacoats, polished shoes, ribboned hair, and matching socks make me look like a slob. They´re too innocent to realize how good they look.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Year round fountains, church storks, roll on the floor

1. In Spain, the fountains are never turned off. They continue to gurgle water even when sub zero temperatures threaten to freeze everything else. It´s as if Spainards want to deny the cold, ignore the winter.

2. After reading about how storks seem to flock and nest in church crevices, Miranda France, author of ¨Don Quixote´s Delusions,¨ ponders that perhaps storks are the spirits of deceased priests and cannot drift away from these holy buildings. As I´m walking one afternoon, I see a stork return to its nest on the church and fold its wings. I´m glad to be reading literature that is immediately relative to my surroundings.

3. There don´t seem to be any toilet paper holders in Spanish bathrooms. In every place I´ve stayed, the roll either just sits on the toilet itself or on a shelf. Why bother? Sometimes I don´t care, but sometimes it´s a hassle. Either way, I love noticing tiny cultural differences.