Today was International Teacher’s Day, which is a big deal in Russia, they celebrate it like a proper holiday, children bring their teachers gifts and schools hold special events. I was told that female teachers are often given flowers, male teachers might receive tea or cake. In the end I did not receive anything other than a couple of compliments, and a few stories. I saw some of my colleagues smiling and carrying around large bunches of flowers, however!
One of my students told me about a special event her school has, where students can get to play the role of teachers for a day and the teachers get the day off. My student actually had the role of headteacher this year, but even though it was just for one day she found it very stressful running a school!
Another student, much younger, and more shy responded to my thanking her for being a good student by telling me I had been a good teacher. Suspicious, I asked her if she was only saying this because it was Teacher’s Day. “Yes” she said. I am putting this down to her still-developing English capability.
One of my colleagues who works with small children told me she had received one bouquet of flowers, a single rose, and two boxes of chocolates.
I had a very difficult day today so it was nice to have a compliment passed on to me by another teacher from a student we share. He has been unimpressed with his foreign teachers in the past but he is happy with my way of teaching, and the teacher herself was surprised by the results of his pronunciation practice with me. He described me as “a teacher” which is quite a compliment when I am told he only has two gradings, and the other one is “not a teacher.”
I had my day all planned out this morning, my first lesson was initially moved and then cancelled so I could have a lie in and then had plenty of time to prepare for my lessons. Or at least that is what I thought, until 11.40 when I got an email saying Edward would be coming in 20 minutes to move my things to my new flat.
20 minutes is not a lot of notice! It turns out they had sent me a boatload of messages yesterday to my phone, rather than by email, but for some reason my phone does not think I have had any messages. I gave the school a call uncertain what to do, ultimately I did not have much choice because a new student is arriving on Friday and I have to be out of the apartment by then. I packed what I could, but I couldn’t do anything with my kitchenware, my mountain of paper materials and my printer. I had to just try and get as much moved now and sort the rest out tomorrow, and I had to do it quickly because I still needed to prepare for my afternoon and evening lessons, and at some point I would need to take a shower.
Eventually it was agreed I could stay in my flat one more night and we will take the rest of my stuff over tomorrow, somehow. I was put in a taxi with a taxi driver who didn’t speak English and we had to wait for Edward, who also doesn’t speak any English. He doesn’t seem to realise that I don’t understand any Russian and kept giving me instructions while I kept staring blankly at him. We muddled through somehow and got my bags (about 6 or 7 mostly filled with dirty laundry!) to the new apartment – where fortunately the internet was already working. I was a bit disappointed with how far into Voroshilovskiy the apartment is – I still have about a 15 minute walk to the office, and getting to the centre is now a 30-40 minute expedition, unless I use the buses or trams.
I had a shower in my new apartment (I needed one!) and packed my books for the day and some clothes for tomorrow ready to head to the office to prepare my lessons. And I couldn’t open the door! I was locked in. I was trying for about 10 minutes and then tried calling the school, but the people who knew about my move weren’t there, and the guy I spoke to was unable to help. I kept trying and eventually found that by pulling the deadlock towards me at the same time as turning it, I could get it open. But that cost me another 20 minutes of my day and left me hot and sweaty again! I made it to the office and put together some kind of plan for my first two lessons, but after them I had another mad dash from Voroshilovskiy to the centre – for the first time I got to ride on the shiny new red trams, the ones that don’t go as far as Tractorniy.
I arrived just in time and winged it with the materials I had managed to print before I set off (and actually the lesson went pretty well, that was the girl who gave me the compliment!), but the problem was going to be the next lesson which was meant to start straight afterwards. I was frantically printing materials until I realised I was 7 minutes late, so I went to check with the front desk – to find out that a) the lesson had been allocated to another teacher because he needed more hours, and b) the student had cancelled again anyway. Apparently I hadn’t got the message – there’s a theme here. Anyway, this was my first break of the day and I took the time to sit down and enjoy a moment of not having to immediately do something!
So I’m typing this back at my old flat, which is now pretty empty, but the internet is still working. I’ve used up most of the food in my fridge and freezer and put all my kitchenware on the table ready to be packed into, I don’t know, something… I suspect some of it may not survive the journey. Unfortunately while I remembered to bring a towel, I left my soap and shampoo at the new flat, so I hope my 9.30 tomorrow all have colds (there has been a spate of sniffling students in recent days!).
I have reluctantly concluded that daily blog posts are just not sustainable (or at least not sufficiently interesting) and have to take second place to things like lesson planning and getting enough sleep. So my posts will be less frequent now, but hopefully more readable and with less babbling about fridges and washing machines.