Monday, September 12, 2011

Școală începe... acum... OK, acum... Nu, acum...

We had the first day of school today – the first day with students – and I learned something: The first day of school, really isn’t. I learned that, in Romania, you essentially go through a series of soft launches before the year starts.

First, the teachers come to plan, ostensibly, on Sept. 1. Then, on Sept. 12 – today, for those of you scoring at home – the students come. They have an assembly, students meet with their dirigintes – basically, their homeroom teachers – and they get their class schedule.

I guess I can take pause and explain how school works here. Basically, you get a class when you enter school, whether that be middle school, high school, mă rog. Basically, that’s your homeroom class that you stick with throughout your tenure at that respective school. You all have the same classes together, at the same time, the whole time.

OK, back to today. There was a really nice assembly with the principal, asst. principal, head of the PTA, mayor, parents, neighbors, et al. All the students dressed up – boys in suits, girls in dresses – and listened to a series of opening words from the dignitaries gathered. The highlight was when the kindergartners read a poem about graduating from kindergarten to first grade; that’s adorable in any language. (There were also a couple kind shoutouts my way from the principal and mayor, the latter of whom including the phrase “a historic day for Tulgheș.” No big deal.)

In addition to the students getting their class schedules, I got mine. Unless this changes in the next week, which is a distinct possibility, I’ll teach six classes on Monday from 8-2, four on Wednesday from 10-2, and six again on Friday from 8-2. This obviously leaves Tuesday and Thursday liber, which I’ll definitely use to plan and work on my secondary projects. There’s also a large amount of interest from the community for adult classes, which will most likely be an hour or two a few times a week. In addition, the representative from the PTA – and some other parents in passing – mentioned having extracurricular “classes” for students outside of school time.

Although I have my reservations as to how successful this will be, I agreed to see what we can do. Perhaps I’ll simply mask it as an “English Club” and frame it as a fun, free time to practice, learn and play, which I believe will be much more fruitful than students being forced by their parents to come to classes in which they have no interest.

Anyway, back to these “soft launches.” The next two weeks is essentially review. We’re required to freshen up what they learned last year, and after that, the new school year really starts, or so I was told by this kid who inexplicably kept yelling “wolf.”