Monday morning we got up pretty early to make sure that we were on time to ride with our principal on the way to school. All three of us went to the academy since we had to fill out paperwork and were supposed to go to the police department to register with the immigration office. Upon first arriving to the school there was already a large group of teachers gathered for the morning meeting and I was able to meet my cooperating teacher right away. She is really nice and we get along great! She teaches 12th grade sociology and 10th grade civics so it should be a fun time learning all kinds of new material. She speaks English fluently so there really aren’t any communication problems between us. As we talked more and more teachers and students started to filter in to get started for the day.
The first thing that happens in the morning is that all the teachers and our principal have a morning staff meeting to discuss what the agenda for the day will be, who is on duty, who will be leaving, and upcoming events/task that need to be worked on. It really gets everyone in the mindset to teach and to be productive throughout the day; it also ensures that everyone is on the same page information wise.
After the meeting my teacher and I were able to chat off and on because she was administering mid-term exams along with the rest of the staff and there were no classes being conducted. Since our principal had to take care of paperwork and other duties we waited with some of the other teachers in a side room until it was time to go to the police department, we would continue this for a couple of days because of exams and trying to get paperwork in order. It was nice just to be able to talk and get to know more of the people we will be working with over the next 8 weeks. We were able to eat lunch with the staff, it’s catered in for everyone and so the staff all eat together. After lunch most of the staff were grading exams or administering them so we were given free reign to explore the grounds and the buildings. By the end of the first day we pretty much had a feel for where things were and a good idea of the general practices around school.
Over the course of the next couple of days we ended up going to the police station twice, once just to check in – we ended up missing some paper work that was needed and the second time to actually talk with the commissioner and finalize paperwork. The second day we also stopped at the department of education and met some of the department heads and allow our principal to gather more information on an exchange program to the United States that her students were going to apply for. By the end of our time at the Education Department Sasha had an appointment to play tennis with some of the Department heads!
Throughout the course of the week I was able to talk with my cooperating teacher much more and we were able to establish what my teaching schedule would be. Originally I would teach sociology for two hours on Mondays, and Civics for one hour Monday – Thursday. Here the teachers only see each period or class of students for about one hour a week (so on Mondays I see period 4, on Tuesdays period 1, etc)- so instead of making a lesson plan for each day I only get to make one lesson plan for each week.
We were also able to discuss the topics for each course that she wanted me to cover; for sociology it was going to be a review session every Monday covering social institutions, social changes, research, values and morals, and key people. Now since the 12th graders are preparing for their school exams and the national exams (they are a really big deal because it determines if they will graduate and if they can go on to college) I only get to do one review session this week with them for two hours. For civics I am supposed to be covering their chapter 6 and reviewing the material they learned throughout the year. The one problem is that their book is in bahasa Indonesian (the native language) and I can’t read it. My cooperating teacher just explained the main themes or concepts and I will do research on my own to learn the material. For civics I will be covering the structure of the government, comparison of the Indonesian government to others in the world, the voting process, the election process, and the legislative process. Should be interesting since I will be learning about he Indonesian government right along with the students!
I was also able to get the Indonesian national standards and see how my teacher writes her lesson plans for class. They actually use a very similar system to how the United States national standards and how the Iowa Core standards are written and used. For me it will be more useful to incorporate their standards into my lessons and it will help ensure that the lessons I teach stay aligned with where the students need to be at the end of the academic year.
She also told me about the uniform policy for the students and the staff; on Mondays and Wednesdays the staff wears blue shirts with black pants or skirts, on Tuesdays and Thursdays they were white shirts with khakis, and on Fridays they can wear Batik (a traditional Indonesia fabric design used for casual or formal occasions) with black pants. I followed the dress code for the first week just so that students would be able to identify me as a teacher and so that I blended in a bit more with all of the staff. Unfortunately I won’t be able to follow it the whole time because I bought a variety of dress clothes to use to teach in.
On Wednesday it was a normal day of classes so I was able to teach one class of 10th grade and I just had them do a snowball icebreaker activity. This way I would get to know more about the individual students and their interests and they would get to know more about me. I had them come up and read a random snowball as well so that they got practice using English and speaking in front of the group, it also gave me a chance to evaluate their English speaking level and see how well the students know each other. Since this is a boarding school they are really close knit, but at the same time have their small group of friends that they stay closer to. The lesson itself went very well and it is obvious that these students are very smart and very curious about the world and the perspectives of others around them, it will definitely be a great group of students to work with!