Friday, November 1, 2013

One Conference to Go

Happy November, everyone. I've had 13 parent-teacher conferences since 10:30 this morning, and have about 45 minutes to go before my next one, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a little updating.

Yes, you read right, parent-teacher conferences! The final teacherly hurdle, in which I sit before adults at least twice my age and tell them I know how their children should be living their lives. In some ways, if our dean of faculty is to be believed, PTCs are one of the last New Things we're going to be doing in a year full of them.

So far I feel pretty good about them, actually. 14 is far fewer than many of my colleagues, so it's been pretty relaxing, and I've found the parents very engaged and devoted to their kids' success. Often it's the parents of the best kids who are the most likely to show up to conferences, so I've been having some great conversations of the "you have a great child; keep it up" variety. It's awesome to see parents so excited about their kids' education, and it's actually gotten me motivated to plan really great lessons this week and keep our momentum going. We'll see how that part goes.

Anyway, some updates with accompanying photos:


We actually celebrated Halloween last week because of Parents' Weekend this week, and here is one of the fruits of our labors, if you will (look familiar, mom and dad?). I got to wear my tails again, and also dress up like a Ninja Turtle, and also eat pretty uncomfortable amounts of candy and cookies and cakes. I'm pretty sure I ate til I felt sick, which seems like exactly the way Halloween is supposed to be spent. And despite the fact that I can't tell if the kids actually know what Halloween is or just think it's a weird tradition their teachers force on them, they seemed to have a good time all weekend. 


Here they are, pre-concert, and only a couple of them are hiding their faces! All 50-some-odd of us made our way on stage at the Parents' Weekend Student Art Showcase and performed "Titanium" to hearty applause and great praise. I'm really proud of how they did; very few people let the pressure of performing affect their energy and enthusiasm, and our sound filled the auditorium despite the fact that the acoustics in there are just miserable.

So we did it! We sang! Never again will the King's Academy Glee Club have to agonize about its first performance. From here, there's a lot further we can go - for starters, we can sing Real Music instead of my own hastily constructed arrangements. Next on the docket is "Do You Hear the People Sing?," featuring a piano accompanist as well as actual sheet music, and I'm excited to see how they fare when faced with an unfamiliar song. Given our success yesterday, though, I have great faith in their abilities. A lot of teachers were very complimentary, and I'm trying to use their praise as fuel to keep things moving forward. All in all, though, I'm proud to be able to say that we have a long way to go, because I have faith that we'll actually be able to get there.

Be on the lookout for a video!

3. It rained?

No picture of this, but it was weird. All of a sudden there were weird noises in my apartment, which I dismissed as malfunctions in the pipes, but then I saw people's Facebook pictures (isn't that how it always happens these days) and sure enough, it was really raining! It lasted about an hour, which is good because any more would've flooded the campus, but it was both weird and welcome to see a change in the weather after so much constant sun.

The best part by FAR was the smell. All of a sudden the whole campus had this earthy, nature-y musk to it, almost like being at a farm or a national park. As soon as I walked outside I was struck with memories of Yellowstone and Glacier; I wanted to just stand out there and drink it in. Hopefully we get a bit more of that, though not too much, because it's nice not to ever have to worry about where your umbrella is.

4. Obligatory Food Moments

This isn't really as momentous as the Glee Club or as exciting as Halloween, but we did go to an awesome restaurant last night. The premise is that you help prepare a traditional Jordanian meal, and then you eat said meal. So here it is (from back of photo to front): freshly baked bread; a tomato/cucumber/parsley "farmer's salad;" maaloubeh (chicken and rice with some veggies, cooked upside-down from what you see here and then flipped over to be served); and moutabbal, which is basically like hummus but with eggplant.


And here it is all nicely assembled on my plate:

Throw in some knafe-esque pastry (flavored with orange blossoms from their garden!) for dessert and we had ourselves quite a meal.


So it's been a fun and productive week, filled with all the usual successes and questions and challenges. Next week we have a day off in the middle for the Islamic New Year, and overall I've only got 11 days left of teaching this semester, which is crazy to think about. I'm going to miss these classes; we've really created an atmosphere in just two months and it'll be sad to see them go. More on this to come, when the end is nearer and I start getting actually (instead of just preemptively) sentimental.

Time to see if I can find a writing sample with which to prove my student's incompetence in my final parent-teacher conference. She's a nice kid, but not the sharpest tool in the shed. And after this one, freeeeeeeeedom!

Happy weekend, y'all. And happy November - so begins my third full month at King's. Let's keep the momentum going.

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