Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I should take more pictures

I'm realizing that the first two posts put a lot of pressure on me as far as embedding multimedia, and I haven't been taking nearly enough pictures (by which I mean I've taken zero). But a lot has happened. Here is some of it:

If the last posts came from the cliff's edge, orientation felt like a hundred-foot dive in several ways. First, it was totally exhausting. Second, it was an absolute blast. Unlike a cliff dive, it lasted two days, each of which ended up being nearly 14 hours straight. We played icebreaker games, we had meetings, we made ceramic windchimes, we made art out of plastic bottles, we ate and ate and ate, we played ultimate frisbee but with 5 kickballs instead of frisbees and teams of 50 or 60 people. It was full steam ahead for 48 hours.

But fortunately it was great. Though I live alone in Jumean, I spent all of orientation with the boys of Sulafat House, all of whom are freshmen. They run the gamut from the big, jolly son of a prominent local politician to the feverishly excited student whose last school may well have been a tent in the desert. By and large, they are amazing kids - incredibly motivated, very bright, and rarely without an ear-to-ear smile. Also they look hilarious in their little uniforms. There were, of course, a few stragglers in the bunch, but in general they had a great time all throughout the orientation process and were eager to participate in the onslaught of activities King's provided for them.

On to the most recent news, though, which is TEACHING.

It was kind of a lie to say today was the first day of school, although I did take a first day of school pic because we all had to dress up. Instead of full periods we had little 10-minute chunks of time; the day was structured so that students could get the hang of their schedules. When you're dealing with high schoolers who want to spend the 5-minute passing time hanging out with their friends, 10 minutes ends up being more like 8, so my quality time with my students was minimal.

But it went well, I think! My first class, made up of 10th-12th graders in a relatively even mix, seems like it's going to be an intellectual juggernaut, in addition to being quite attentive and engaged. The second class, which was the last period of the mini-day, is younger - all sophomores (except for one senior who doesn't seem thrilled to be in a class with exclusively younger kids) - and the difference in their critical thinking already felt palpable. But I feel like I got some good face time in with them both in and out of class, and I'm excited to get the actual learning started.

So tomorrow I see my first class, the D Block group, at 8:30am and then am free the rest of the day (my G Block class doesn't meet on Wednesdays). Spending 45 minutes with them is going to feel pretty different from the 10 I had today, and a fair amount of it is just going to be class protocol and such, but I'm excited to get to the actual learning and see how our class environment begins to develop.

The rest of the day's been great: we finished up the inter-House olympics with some very impressive music and dance performances (seems there are more talented singers here than I'd realized, which is exciting), and it's been more or less free time since then. I don't think we'll have this much down time during the semester proper, but I think I'll be able to find times to relax once we've settled into our schedules.

Much, much more to come: in addition to my first real class tomorrow, the music faculty is having a meeting with interested students to see who's signing up for what. So I'm going to get a sense of what my choir will look like. Fingers crossed that those girls who absolutely killed it this afternoon will all be interested in trying out. Stay tuned.


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