My first day back at school was surreal. It seemed as if I had never left. The only way I could tell that I had been away was how all of the teachers kept asking my how America was, despite my having been in Prague. The younger students were fairly adorable as they mobbed and hugged me. It definitely was a nice welcome back. Sadly, the honeymoon stage did not last long.
By the second day back, one of my co-teacher’s left me with one of the worst classes for over half an hour, the dreaded 7th graders. They were not as bad as I expected, but I really dislike having to attempt to control a class without properly being able to make them understand me. While my Georgian is not very good, I do know how to tell students to “be quite, stop it, sit down, stand up” and “do you want mandatori”. Most 7th graders seem to have selective hearing. Those that do hear add to the noise by yelling at the others. Oh what a lovely vicious circle. I end up just standing silently and waiting. Honestly, they barely even listen to the Georgian teachers. What gets the students to be quite, is a teacher yelling at them in fluent Georgian, or quietly shaming them, or getting a mandatori.
Then on Thursday I came in time for the second lesson, which is what it was last semester, to find that the schedule has changed and I am supposed to be with the 10th graders (maybe even worse than the 7th graders). I have only ever guest co-taught with the 10th graders and it was a living nightmare that I could not get out of fast enough.
On Friday, I was left with the first and third graders. The first graders are impossible, purely because of the language barrier. I did a lot of color flashcards, repetition and songs. I also took the lazy route and let the students talk and fiddle with colored pencils for a good ten minutes.
The third graders were their usual selves, but I had fun with them. The three that were being absolutely annoying with their constant yaking, I had stand in corners. They did so, with my begging not to. (Begging here is accompanied by students pulling the flap of skin under their chin and saying “Mas, Mas gtovt” (teach, teach please). I like to delude myself into thinking that I have some control over them. We even played a game where a correct answer meant candy. That got them sure riled up. Even students who literally have no idea what is going on suddenly want to be a participant. I made sure to choose the difficulty of questions based on the student so that every student got a sweet by the end of class. I almost felt bad because as they were eating their candy their homeroom teacher came in and started to yell at a student for eating. Luckily I got my point across that I gave it to them. The homeroom teacher immediately smiled and apologized to the student whose head she had just bitten off.
Being left with a class now is much less frightening than it used to be, but a heads up would be nice. If I were given more than five minutes notice that I was going to have the class alone, I might have a plan. Maybe I should take the boyscout motto and “Be Prepared”. I never would have thought to apply boyscout motto’s to teaching English in Georgia.