Headlines:

  • They took my fridge away!

  • I turned up for a lesson with a plan from the wrong textbook!

  • They took my fridge away!

So my luxury of 24-hour iced drinks lasted less than a day, as workmen collected our fridge-freezer and took it away for what we have been told is a day or two, but Russian estimates are like Russian winters – predictably unpredictable and usually turn out worse than you expect.

For what it is worth, my pasta was filling and nutritious, I might need to work on the flavour a bit but it was by no means inedible, and I have now finished it off.  I am also washing my own clothes, and have reached a level of functional sufficiency equivalent to a teenager in his first year at university, but with a bit less of the attitude.

We did get advance warning of the fridge removal, so we could empty it before the workmen arrived, and seeing as I had a nearly-full stomach crammed with pasta, and a full packet of chocolate ice cream, I offered to share it with Jorge and his girlfriend who were appropriately grateful.  It was very tasty too!

Today I got to lie in (until the fridge men arrived) – I did the bulk of preparation for my lessons last night and the first one was not until 3pm.  I took some time in the morning to do the homework exercises for my Russian lessons.  I knew one of the audio clips I needed to use in one of my lessons was missing so I needed to make a trip to the central office.  Then I came back, had a shower, and headed off to Voroshilovskiy.  It was a little overcast today but still warm, though a relief from the oppressive baking sunshine of the last week.

I had two back to back lessons from 3pm, then a break of an hour and a half before my last lesson.  I arrived an hour early to do some copying (handouts etc) but there were other people using the copier so I had to just hang about, check my lesson plans etc.

One of the teachers had a chat with me – I know her name is Irina and we share a couple of classes (the students have 2 lessons each week, one with Irina and one with me).   There are so many people introducing themselves to me every day I find it impossible to remember everyone’s name – I know that there are a surprising number of Kates and Helens for trans-Caucasian Russia, though!  90% of the people who work for the school are women – every office has 2 or 3 managers, who dress smartly in white blouses with orange neckerchiefs, and tend not to be so good at English, and then there are all the teachers who are more casually dressed, often in jeans or a short summer dress.  Everyone is treating me like a trusted acquaintance now, and I have no idea who most of these people are or what they do!  These are tricky waters to navigate, though I know at least one person in every office well enough to beg for help if I find myself out of my depth.

My first two classes today were uneventful – all young adults, one group very studious and morose, the second full of mischief and giggles.  It was the third class that was the problem.  I’ve been given a set of textbooks and told these are the only ones you’ll generally need.  There is one for adults (Total English), one for young children, one for older children, and one with three graded levels for teenagers.

I was expecting 3 students but only one showed up, and wary of misunderstandings I checked she was with the adult Advanced group.

No.  She was Intermediate.  She had the textbook and everything.

She had arrived well before the start time so I went to the office to see what was happening, and found out that yes indeed this class was Total English Intermediate, a grading that I was wholly unaware of before this moment.  Being a last minute addition to my timetable which I had hastily handwritten in meant I had had little opportunity to spot the clues that I was being given a totally new grade of class to teach.

The manager in the office did not speak much English so went to fetch Kate, my main Voroshilovskiy contact.  She didn’t think this was a big deal at all.  She looked out the Intermediate textbook for me, printed off a couple of handouts, showed me the phonetics book they used (funny story – Mikhail showed me the same book, I queried with the library why I didn’t have a copy, and the library told me none of my classes use it…!) and quickly went through what I needed to do.

The lesson started 5 minutes late, but I got through the majority of it exactly as laid out – in fact it was probably one of my better lessons, despite certainly being the least prepared one!  One of the topics we covered was modals of ability – “can” “could” “managed to” “was able to.”  I could do the lesson, Kate told me I can do the lesson, and in the event I was able to do the lesson and managed to do it well!  Or at least well enough…

I have a cancellation tomorrow (fortunately for a lesson I have not yet prepped for!) so things are slightly easier and I may go into my two remaining lessons with a slightly higher degree of confidence.  But as I taught another class earlier in the week, pride comes before a call – I should keep my eyes open for any more bear traps.

One thought on “Easy Come, Easy Go

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