The start of my Novy Rok (New Year) was announced on an Aer Lingus flights somewhere over the Atlantic. I landed in Prague to a cold yet snowless day. I made it to my brother and his families house where I had left them my crazy kitten to watch over.

I babysat my niece and nephew so my brother and his wife could enter the Shire and go on an adventure through the land of Tolkein with the Hobbit. It was a lot of fun. I gave them the presents from their Bebi and Babu and their Uncle Michel and from me. I also snuggled my cat to try and make sure he remembered me and was ready to be put in a bag and taken away.

My journey back to Sokolov was uneventful. My cat did not want to go in the bag, but eventually calmed down enough (I shoved him in and zipped it up pronto!). He only made a break for it once when I opened the bag a crack to slip him a treat during the bus ride. I was lucky no was was sitting next to me!

One day to get over jet lag and plan Thursday and Friday lessons! WOOHOO! It took many a cup of tea to ensure my consciousness. That night was spent in a groggy bliss as my boyfriend returned after we hadn’t seen each other in two weeks!! Unthinkable.

I had decided that students would need a warm up for their brain, so Thursday and Friday classes would be review. Lots of review, lots of songs, lots of games. I was incredibly pleased with how well the review went with all levels of my classes. I was also a bit shocked by what some of my students should have, but did not know -hem hem- ordinal numbers and the months- hem hem. So, it was an eye opener in many ways. Still overall pleased with how the first lessons of the year went.

Friday could have been a terrible day because my boss and a new teacher were going to observe two of my classes. (Before break, one of the teachers left three work days early without telling our boss, her roommate, or anyone…..those were a hectic last few days for sure). I have gotten good at ignoring observers once I get started, but it is the dread of being watched and the worrying about how good they will think my lesson plan is and how crazy the kids will be that are still hard for me to overcome.

In my first kindergarten class on Friday, I was not only obsereved by my boss and new coworker, but by two of the kindergarten teachers. The teachers in this kindergarten are very nice, so that is never much of a concern. I was so surprised and touched when the teachers at the end of my lesson clapped and said “bravo Eteri!” and shook my hand. That was nice!!

My second class of Friday is usually one of the hardest for me to plan for, control and to teach. I had a huge list of review activities, some easier than others because the skill levels are fairly varied. Again, I was being observed. And not to toot my own horn, but I was pleased with how the lesson went. One of the trouble makers was absent and for whatever reason the rest of the class behaved well and wowed me. They floored me with a few of the observation and sentences they made. I did not think they were capable of producing that level of language. I was honestly very proud of that lesson and of those students.

After the lesson, my boss commented that she wished she had filmed it because it was a perfectly flowing lesson with the perfect rhythm to keep the students engaged. She congratulated me and it felt good. It really does feel nice to be appreciated and told that you have done a job well done.

My next week started out well with only a few randomly funny events. The first class with one group of students,  a 7 or 8 old boy asked me in Czech to wear  pants….Now, I assume he was trying to communicate this with me, because the entire class thought it was important to try and translate it for me. The interesting thing is, I was wearing a skirt OVER pants…..So, I am still a bit miffed as to what he was talking about.

Since my return, I have been wishing every teacher I see in the schools a “Happy New Year” in Czech – Šťastný Nový Rok. I was told on Wednesday by a coworker that the way I pronounce “Šťastný” sounds more like “strašný”, which means terrible. I may or may not have been wishing people a “terrible new year!” Oops! I think the adults understood at least, but maybe that’s why students have been giving me really strange looks when I have said that to them…

So to everyone out there “Šťastný Nový Rok!”

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