The reason that I’ve been brought to this lovely country has finally begun…TEACHING!
I took a little break in posting to give my lovely readers (and myself) a little break from the madness of Maddie. I received a message from my grandma yesterday saying “Have I missed your blog?” so apparently I need to reconsider my little breaks for her sake. We’ll see. Love you, Grandma!
I was greeted by my lead teacher Adam and two of my new students, Sophie and Chloe-Bet, as soon as I walked in the door. They were so warm and welcoming that it made all my nerves disappear (and trust me, there were plenty of nerves to go around)! After shooing off the kiddos to wherever it is they go before school (I still have no clue at this point), Adam started to lead me to his classroom. It was like a maze finding my way through this building! They just added a new addition that you have to go outside and through the courtyard to get to, which was a very big shock to me. I’ve never seen that sort of school in America. I figured maybe that meant we did everything in the new building so that the kids wouldn’t be all over the place so much. Nope! They have lunch, assembly, and break all in the main building, and I kept thinking that I couldn’t imagine this sort of environment in Indiana. I like the freedom the students have, but it will be a bit of adjustment for me to get used to it.
The students were immediately receptive to me, but instead of coming straight up and asking my name and chatting with me continuously (and when they’re not supposed to) like my students in Fishers did (you know who you are, Room 20), they just shyly smiled at me and stared like I was an alien until I came over and talked to them. Once I was introduced and told them to come over and tell me their name when they can, they immediately stopped being shy and started coming up to me consistently.
There are two Year 5 (the equivalent to 4th grade) classes at Downview Primary School, and they work very closely together. I spent time in both classrooms and tried to familiarize myself with the students in both. I was able to have a little question and answer time with both of the classes, and some of their questions probably don’t shock you. Others shocked me, so don’t be surprised if you see some random ones. And remember, when you say these in your head you have to use a really sweet British accent!
• What’s your favorite food/animal/sweets?
• What is your favorite state in America? (Me: Indiana) Them: Other than Indiana. (Me: *sigh* I know it doesn’t have Disney World or Hollywood but it’s great I promise!*)
• What is your favorite country? (Me: America) Them: Other than America.
• What other state would you live in if you had to?
• What American football team do you like? (The Bears *sobs*)
• Do you like any football teams here?
• What do you do in Indiana?
• If you could have any job in the world, what would you be?
• Who is your favorite singer/song?
• Do you like/know/did you vote for Donald Trump? (I was asked this question 8 times in 3 hours.)
The students were funny, sweet, and genuinely wanted to know about not only me, but America and Indiana. It made me happy to be able to represent my country in a way the USA might be proud of! I got quite a few goodbye hugs from students as they left, so I think I’m in! I lucked out on this first day getting a ride to school from Sue and a ride home from Adam since it was so dreary out (classic first-day-of-school-in-England move). I am, again, so thankful to be in the place I am with the people that are here and the experiences I am having. Tomorrow, however, I am making my first walk to school, so we shall see how it goes when the sun comes up.
I had one student look at me and say “I bet I can guess your favorite weather.” “…Okay…” “Rain.” “HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?!”
Student: “You’re my new best friend!” Me: “Okay!” Student every time he sees me: “IT’S MY BEST FRIEND!!!!!!”
Things I Noticed:
• The tea is real. They have built in a break for it from *twenty past eleven to twenty to eleven* (the first time I heard twenty to eleven I thought it was 22 11 and thought they only had two minutes to make and drink their tea).
• Five or six of my students told me they want to move to America and when they do, we’re going to meet up.
• One of the teachers made cupcakes for her own birthday and they were better than any other cupcakes I have had. They were gorgeous.
• NO ONE KNEW WHAT THE INDY 500 WAS! OR CORN HOLE! AND THEN I GOT TEASED TRYING TO EXPLAIN WHY THROWING BAGS INTO A HOLE AND WATCHING CARS GO AROUND A TRACK IS FUN!
I walked to school for the first time this morning, and guess what? THE SUN CAME OUT TO SAY HELLO!!! It was lovely, and I took advantage by taking pictures of everything I passed. Their gardens here are beautiful and remind me of my grandma’s house. I was so distracted by the sunshine and trying to get caught taking a selfie that I missed my turn and ended up walking in the wrong direction.
It took me a while to figure out “Waaiiittt…all these students in uniforms walking towards school look too old to be going to my school…OH SHOT I AM WALKING TO THE SECONDARY SCHOOL!” I luckily found a teacher on her way into that school and asked her how I get to mine from there. She pointed me in the right direction without even giving me an odd glance as to why I would’ve been lost. I’m just going to assume it’s because she heard my accent and that said enough. I was still on time though! Yay me for leaving early in case I got lost to school like I knew I would!
The students came into class in the morning and I was immediately greeted with hugs and a beautiful card from some of the ladies.
It made my whole day!!! Along with the card, I was given a little fuzzball that Holly made me, and a flower crown from their recess time (I believe they just call it break or play).
They are all now on my window sill.
Today I started noticing more teaching techniques or practices, as well as differences in curriculum and language. For example, if a word ends in -ce, it is a noun (football practice) versus if it ends in -se, it is a verb (I am going to practise football tonight). I told the class that we only have one practice, and we use it regardless if it is a verb or noun. About six students came up and told me they’re coming back to America with me because of this.
Today I got to teach the students (and my teacher) about baseball! We played a game, and the students loved it. They don’t completely understand the concept of throwing the ball instead of chasing down a player and they try to hit the ball as if it’s cricket (for the struggling hitters, they used a cricket bat), but they were so into the game that I didn’t want to stop them. For having no base knowledge of the game, they did a wonderful job! They even want to play again next week. Who knows, maybe if we get a good game going, I’ll even whip out a rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
Things I’ve Noticed:
- I like to say good morning to people when I walk by them to see a slight look of confusion on their face when I do not sound English.
- The students wear uniforms here unlike most American schools, and I actually think I am on #TeamUniforms at this point. I love students being able to express themselves individually, but uniforms take away the stigma of “you have to wear this to be friends with us” and takes away part of the bullying aspect that comes with it. Plus, it take way less time And to show their individuality, the girls wear tons of bows. Like huge, colorful, glittery bows.
- They call sand yellow a lot. Or at least my class does, and I don’t think I’ve ever described sand as yellow. And if I’m writing a point on this, that means it has happened a lot.
- Boys and girls are much more friendly and comfortable with each other here. In the classrooms that I have taught in Indiana, girls tend to stick with girls and boys tend to stick with boys. And if you make a group with both boys and girls, you have to make sure which ones they are because half are scared of the other gender. Here, they all go to each other’s birthday parties, sit with each other, and play with each other. I’m trying to find what causes this and bring it home with me.
- I am still analyzing the use of silverware (since I use mine wrong). What I have brought it down to is that if they are eating off a plate, they use two utensils (fork and spoon or fork and knife), but bowls are just one (unless it’s pasta, then it might be two).
- You have to switch your electrical outlet on if you want to use it, sort of like a light switch right next to it. I thought it was just my house, but it’s everywhere.
I DIDN’T GET LOST TODAY!!!! I did, however, walk through my first rainy morning. Rain is my favorite weather, so it was very calming. Except for the wind that blew my umbrella out and made me look like the struggling American I am.
Today when I walked into class, I did not get a card or flowers or a fuzzball… I GOT CAKES. That’s what they call cupcakes! One girl made me a cupcake, another gave me some of their birthday cake from the night before, and another girl made cupcakes during a cooking club (I think?) at school. I was spoiled with cakes.
I have started taking small groups to work with them on maths, and it surprises me how on task and productive they are. They are very self-sufficient. One student would say “Bang on!” every time he got a question right, and I asked what that meant. He said that it meant he got the answer completely correct. I told him that we don’t say that in America, to which another student said “To be fair, not many people say it here.” FINALLY A PHRASE THAT IS NOT JUST NEW TO ME!
During the afternoon today, I talked to the students about Indiana and answered more of their questions. They were so intrigued about our history, customs, and America’s government system. They had loads of questions that I had to cut them off asking them all to move on to our next fun activity!
My students in Room 20 wrote About Me papers on my last day with them. The sheets ask for their favorite things, what they want to be, and questions they have about England. I gave them to my Downview students, and they adored them! They were swapping with each other and reading about as many kids as they could. They would ask me questions about them and get excited if they had something in common. After they read through some examples, they wrote their out About Me papers that I can give to my Indiana students. They were so excited about it, and it made me laugh how similarly both classes responded to these pages. Many of them knew exactly what to put and put down tons of information. And then there were those that told me “Miss Stahl, I don’t know myself. What is my favorite TV Show?” LIKE COME ON, KIDDOS! No one knows you like you do! They’re so silly sometimes, and I am happy to know that doesn’t change across continents.
I have had so many students tell me they are going to stow away in my luggage or stick to my arm when I go back to America. It’s funny, because my Indiana students did the same thing when I was leaving for here, too. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right. It also overflows my heart with love and warm fuzzies, because I would gladly smuggle them over if it wasn’t illegal and immoral and against everything I stand for.
Things I Noticed:
- Their pronunciation of the letter “R” isn’t as strong as Americans in many words. For example, father and farther are two of their commonly confused words because they both sound like “fah-ther.”
- One of my students asks me to say car frequently because she says it “C-AH” and I say “C-AH-RRRRRRRRR” and she adores it.
- THEY ALL ACTUALLY LOVE MY ACCENT AND WANT TO LEARN IT. They are also confused why I can already mimic their accent but they can’t mimic mine.
- The students here are totally on board with my Cinderella/Taylor Swift/One Direction obsessions. Maybe that’s why kids like me so much…because I am one?
Differences in Vocabulary:
- England = America
- Speech marks = Quotation Marks (speech = quotes)
- Are you coming around to George’s later? = Are you coming over to George’s later?
- You alright? = How are you/How are you doing? (I assumed they were asking if I was alright because I looked upset or overwhelmed but no, they ask everyone if they’re alright. And it’s not “Are you alright?” it’s “You alright?”)
- Pigeon hole = mailbox (at school, at least)
- Tick = check mark
- Pronounces Adidas Ah-Dee-Dahs = Pronounces Adidas Uh-Dee-Des
- Take away = Take out (and they typically get Indian take away and we get Chinese take out)
- Pronounces thorough Thoro-AH = Pronounces thorough Thoro-OH (Same with borough)
- Cakes = Cupcakes/Regular cake
- Rubber = Eraser (rub it out = erase it)
- Language = Vocabulary (ex. “She has great language, but she struggles with grammar.”)
I spend a lot of my time in these posts pointing out the differences, but that’s because those are the things that stick out to me. Honestly, they’re the things I know lots of people reading this are interested in. But I need it to be clear that I am not some sort of outsider finding every single thing that is different and casting judgement from it. I am both curious and intrigued by the differences, and at the end of the day, I’m still in an English speaking country teaching children how to do math(s) and become kinder people. I have loved my time in this country and am embracing every difference!!!
Who knows what the rest of the week will bring!
“A mind stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.”