First week of teaching!

I have come to the end of the first week of school and it has been hectic. In a previous post (First Weekend in Kathmandu), I mentioned that Monday was a crazy day of meetings and discovering I didn’t really have a timetable. Well that’s (sort of) sorted now, even if my timetable is done in coloured highlighters instead of pencil! I’m hoping to get a proper one done on a computer in a few weeks that might actually contain the right classrooms, so I’m not poking my head in classrooms until I find the right one.

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My somewhat more colourful and busier timetable (outlined so it could be photocopied and legible!)

However, the craziness of Monday was put to shame by Tuesday, as students poured in to the school with a variety of accents and first languages (one of the years I’m working includes a boy who speaks four languages and no one’s sure what his first is!).

We started off with a full-school assembly, not to mention several parents. Luckily, this time the words were in English and I knew them all as they were modern worship songs (there will be no Grey-Coat-esque ancient hymns that even the director of music doesn’t know, or endless renditions of “I the Lord of Sea and Sky” here, to my relief!).

Each term, KISC has a theme (one of it’s five key words), which reminds me of Grey Coat’s yearly theme, but not so dragged out and without mandatory form noticeboards and cringe-inducing slogans. This term’s theme is “Excellence”, and the term verse is 2 Corinthians 8v7: “But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

I think this is a really good verse for the school – or anyone, really – as it stresses that the crucial part of “Excellence” isn’t academic talent (knowledge here is in the context of knowledge of God and the bible, and the gift of the spirit for understanding others) or being successful in your job. Rather, “Excellence” in giving to others is the most important, be it our time or our support or more monetary items. Having spent the last two years in a Sixth-Form that seem to stress perfectionism in learning, I find this encouraging and wish this had been the form of excellence stressed there.

I would say that everyone at KISC is pretty Excellent at giving advise, support and friendship. I don’t feel like an outsider at all, and if you sit down at lunch (which are amazing and astonishingly cheap for such excellence!), whoever’s nearby will strike up a conversation and ask how you’re settling in. Even after six days, I feel like I have been at the school for a month. I am (slowly) learning names, though I never seem to know anyone’s surnames, which is difficult when asking the students where I can find “Mr…Oh, you know, the Australian Maths Teacher“!

In order to get a feel for the school, instead of following my rough timetable on Tuesday, I was assigned a rather random list of classes to observe; ICT, PE, RE, Geography and Art. For some, I just sat at the back and watched as the lessons, filling out a sheet designed for faculty heads and senior leadership team to use when undertaking professional observation. Some of the questions amused me (“What would you take away as a student” and “What are the lesson objectives” seemed rather similar, unless the lesson didn’t follow the lesson plan), while I wasn’t quite sure how to decided between student-orientated and teacher-orientated when the lessons largely comprised of handing out exercise books and textbook, discussing the term overview, agreeing rules and possibly recapping last term, if there was time. In Art, I was invited to join in, and it showed that I hadn’t taken the subject in more than four years!

It also confuses me continually that the floors are labeled the American way, so when I am told something is on the “second” floor, they actually mean I need to go to the “first” floor as I think. As each secondary class has brightly painted lockers in the stairwell landings, I have learnt the floors by their lockers, so “second” floor is “Emoji lockers” floor etc. It seems to have worked so far!

On Wednesday, I started on my timetable, helping as a TA in Year 10 and 11 Physics and Chemistry (I also am part of Year 10 Homeroom and am TA for one of the Year 11 Maths classes, so they get to see me at least once a day, if not twice). I think the IGCSE Physics and Chemistry teachers are not used to a TA in the classroom, and we are slowly working out what I can do to help, as I just sit at the front like a (blue) lemon during the explanation of theory. However, because I am talking a lot to Rebecca, I can feedback any parts the class didn’t understand so the next lesson can include a structured recap if need be. I was able to take this part of a chemistry lesson, as I clarified electron shells and electronic configuration with a truly inaccurate picture of the periodic table. I hope I can do more mini-bursts of teaching as I really enjoyed it. So much for the 16 year old who thought she’d hate to teach and would be throwing board rubbers everywhere in frustration!

It has been decided that I will take the extension classes for “Middle Years” (Years 7-9) Maths once a week. Luckily, they follow an Australian programme that I just have to explain and assist with the problems, so nothing too much to plan there, other than attempting to find a free classroom and learn how fast they will progress through the problems.

However, because I am here, Yvonne/Miss Edwards (Middle Years’ Science Teacher who is looking after me) has decided that she will take out the brightest Year 9 students once a week. She is often overwhelmed by questions from them that range from on-topic but well beyond the teaching level to completely bizarre questions. My task is to answer them. So far, I have been asked to explain Centripetal Forces and Quantum Mechanics (topics that don’t appear until A-Level!). I decided to start with the easier Centripetal Forces and spent several free periods this week writing a lesson. All I need now is a free classroom (easier said than found) and a bucket of water on string (probably a demo to do on the roof…). I am also being asked to do various odd-jobs for the Science department (posters, making lab equipment bingo, etc.). It’s more fun than I’d expect, though I’v suggested any posters get an “artistic approval” first!

As one of the few Brits, and one who has just completed the UCAS process to apply for university, I have been asked to help one of the Year 13 students with his process, as there hasn’t been another application to UK universities in 6 years. When I talked with the College Councillor (an American), we both realised that he had no idea about UCAS and as I have just gone through Cambridge Admissions too (the student in question’s first choice), pretty much full responsibility has been handed over to me. Here’s hoping I don’t mess everything up! As part of this I have emailed Cambridge several times, and received rather unhelpful replies (pretty much a copy and paste from the website, which wasn’t any more illuminating than the first time I read it). I also struggled through a technically document about fee status, to check the student qualified for Home Fees. Words like “Settled” and “Ordinarily Resident” are more complex than you might expect.

This past Thursday, the results of the International A-Levels and IGCSEs were released, and many of “my” students asked me if I had received mine too and gained my university place, which was lovely of them. Unfortunately, that is next Thursday that I find out (and I should receive my grades and university place confirmation between lunchtime and the parent meeting in the evening, so the students know to look for my expression!).

On Friday, some of the teachers play football at the Futsal Court opposite school, and I agreed to go along to boost the girls’ numbers (there are three of us, all staying at the Guest House). Despite my absolute cluelessness, all the staff were very encouraging and tried constantly to set me up with shoots, persisting to pass to me even when I missed almost every single one. Seeing my ineptitude, they didn’t not play as aggressively around me, as they did everywhere else on pitch.

Unfortunately, I tripped over the ball and did something to my foot. I didn’t realise at first that I had actually hurt my foot. I got up and kept playing the last three matches (including the finally match when all the expat staff had left except for Jess so it was two white girls playing with the Nepali staff!). When I got back, the adrenaline had worn off and I could hardly move my foot. Nikita, the other girl, had injured her ligament badly, so we both had feet up on pillows and ordered pizza from the restaurant the others went to, which we ate in front of a (probably pirated copy of) Four weddings and Funeral. I am definitely going back to football next week, as my foot feels better after a day of lying around with books. I also borrowed the first season of Dowton Abbey from the Drews and binge-watched that as the rain poured down outside. Who doesn’t feel better after several hours (three or four?) of posh British accents discussing who has the best rose bloom or whether an entail can be broken?

I hope that the next few posts won’t be as long (things should settle down in a “mundane” lifestyle soon), but I’m just so excited to share KISC and this incredible adventure God has sent me on. I hope to introduce you to my housemates (Meet the GuestHousers! posts to start soon!) and then maybe some of the teachers I work closely with. I also need to learn to take more pictures!

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