bad pupils and burning peels

like grocery shopping when you’re hungry, it’s never a good idea to write immediately after a terrible day at school. was one of those days. i thought last week was terrible…but this might have topped it.

i’m already counting down the hours till the next weekend, the days till the end of the semester, and the months till the end of my teaching contract. i sat and mapped out the entire year of teaching after class. somehow the act of writing out every single week, month after month, on paper made it seem like time would go faster. on paper it doesn’t seem like so long…but after a day like today…the weeks can drag.

i mean i have to be honest, they weren’t THAT bad. meaning no one shot me, no physical fighting occurred (my other peace corps volunteer friend has to deal with that often), and i’m still alive. so in those respects it went super! but man the kids were crazy today. i think it has to do with that full moon we had last night…whatever it was 8b form (grade) is going to drive me to some heavy drinking…at least i have plenty of drinking buddies. but i’m just kidding, sort of.

one of the problems is the fact that i, for one, am not a ukrainian teacher and don’t have the ability to discipline like they can (they can YELL) and i’m also not their real teacher. both of those combined equals what they think as a free for all why ‘should-we-pay-any-attention-to-the-silly-young-american’ bandwagon mentality. i’ve tried everything i can think of discipline wise besides corporal punishment (that’s next!) (no i’m really just kidding this time). my most powerful (and really only) weapon are my words but in this case they don’t really do much good since they can’t understand what i’m saying. so as it seems, i may have lost this battle. my only hope is that when my counterpart lesya comes back she’ll kick their little butts for me.

between two of my classes, i went to the school library and hopes of finding a set of extra textbooks i could teach from. the title school library sounds impressive, but it’s such a small room with books jenga style stacked on top of each other i’d more so call it a storage room. if only there was more room for all those books waiting to see sunlight. the librarian helped me find some of 7 books i need. on my way out i saw a little shelf of russian harry potter books (pronounced arri potter here) and it really made me miss america (ironically even though it’s british) and all my HP fans back home. maybe i could somehow incorporate that into a lesson plan…hehe.

with all my books in hand feeling soooomewhat more prepared to teach now that i had (some) books i went to my next classroom. setting my stuff down on my desk and dreading the next 8b form class, one of my 7b students came up to inform me that i missed their class. oops. apparently the ‘break’ i thought i had 2nd period was actually a class. but first let me make this clear and try to justify that i’m (sorta) not a bad teacher. the schedule for classes is made the day in advance and is handwritten out in ukrainian (which is impossible to read) then tacked to the wall. so i literally have no idea what lessons i have till the day before. i have different classes everyday and usually only see each grade level 2-3 times a week. it’s really confusing and i’m still trying to figure it out myself. clearly. otherwise i wouldn’t have missed my class. buuuut the students didn’t seem to mind (they told me they were so happy there was no lesson ha) and no teacher even mentioned it so i guess it didn’t matter.

so the rest of my day ensued and ended with my least terrible 6th form, thank goodness. i gathered my things and walked to the director’s office to ask about that classroom i was told i’d have. turns out she wasn’t there but while stood and talked to the secretary for a while. she handed me an avon catalogue (funny that it’s big here too) and told me i could order through her…though i doubt i can afford any of that. another teacher came in while we talked and handed us little bags of assorted candies and from what i thinnnnk she said today is the anniversary of her husband’s death. so on this day you give out candy so that he may be good up in heaven. after she told me that i felt kinda bad for the sheer excitement in my voice when she handed it to me…well…now i know.

the secretary informed me that i was going to get the new lock i requested today so i’d better go home and be there when he comes to change it. i don’t know why i though it’d be a locksmith…maybe cause if i were in america that’s what it would be? but the school mechanic-janitor-do-it-all man came with his tools and a new lock. there are really no such things as specialists here, i mean you don’t look in a phone book for a plumber, electrician, or roofer cause every man here knows how to do it. or at least their expected to. anyways while he worked on that i decided to prepare some apples i got from my neighbor for applesauce. mainly for therapy and also because the fruit flies had gotten to them. it was actually pretty good therapy chop the heck out of them while thinking of my pain in the butt students lol. while pulverizing the apples i decided to be resourceful and save the peels to be baked later.

after chopping 12 apples my pot was full and hands tired. i threw my giant pile of apple peels onto a pan and put them in my oven (ahhh i love that oven). i cranked up the heat and went to my rook to work on my lessons. with a little clue from the title, you can probably guess what happens next. i was deep into my studies when i heard my name and a gentle knock on my bedroom door. i put my shoes on and answered only opening my door to a hallway full of smoke. shit. at first i didn’t even have clue to why there was smoke…that’s just how bad i compleeeetely forgot about those apple peels which were now close to catching on fire. smoke was quickly billowing out of my oven and i grabbed a towel took out the now charcoal looking things and ran barefoot outside with the pan. kids were standing out near my door watching the commotion and i could only laugh. i profusely apologized to the nurses (whom i share the corridor with) and attempted to aerate the hall by a breeze from the door and window. some of the students got towels and even a scarf to help me (see they’re nice OUTSIDE of class). it was quite the scene. so now my sparkling white new oven has been christened with a slightly browned stain from the escaping smoke and i have no yummy baked apple peels like i planned. on the upside: i didn’t burn down the building and didn’t set off the smoke alarms…though…i think it’s more concerning that i didn’t set them off.

after i flamed the fire of my little apple mishap and got rid of most of the smoke i went to school to to grade papers and tutor kids on their homework (which is more like them wanting me to write it for them). while they all went for dinner in the cafeteria upstairs i had the chance to skype with jeff for an hour (and had a relatively clear connection too!). it was lovely. after dinner my tutoring students came back and all deposited a gift of candy on my desk. hehe i like them. so a really terrible day had a fairly sweet ending.

3 thoughts on “bad pupils and burning peels

  1. Kristen! What a rough day. Im glad you can are able to end it on a happy note though 🙂 I think when their teacher gets back things will change. They are terrified of them! Keep doin your thing girl.

  2. Kristen, I slipped a kitchen timer into this package, so hopefully no more burnt apple peels. I wish you had a picture of those kids helping you get the smoke out of the dorm. 😀

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