The Caf     IMPRESSIONS     Thank you Terry!      The Rollercoaster                         The Blob,  Vol. 1, Issue 3, September 2006
Wednesday September 13th, 2006
The Caf
Top left is our library tour.  They have a section devoted to Ataturk in the balcony.  He brought major changes to the country back in the 20's, such as changing the writing of Turkish from Arabic script to a Latin script similar to our own.  Top right is the server in the caf.  They really dress it up along with the waiters shown in the lower pictures.  They walk among the caf making sure that the water jugs at each table are always full.  I've enjoyed every lunch in the caf so far.  It's also free for teachers!
Those are the buses for the high school students.  I usually get around in vehicles like that which the school provides.  Below are the students signing up for our Wednesday aft activity of playing American Football.  I had so much fun randomly throwing
the football and the frisbee at students passing by during the sign-up time.  We'll be playing Settler's, other board games and watching sports movies in the winter when we can't go outside.  I'm also enjoying teaching so far though it's taking me a lot of time to prep my classes.  I've got a lot of work ahead of me this year, but I'm also excited to learn what the year has for me.  It's interesting how I have to keep challenging myself to grow and learn new things so that I engage life.  Another part of me wants to sit back and be comfortable with my job etc... but whenever I do that, life seems to get boring.  Here's a short video clip of our night in Istanbul celebrating a birthday.  The Turkish women seemed to do most of the dancing, but at the end of the night, most people were up on their chairs.  This was actually one of the most unbelievable worst nights of my life leading to my first heart break in Turkey!!! :(
Apart from that little hiccup, I do feel like I'm meeting some interesting people here and making some fun friends.  One couple from Michigan also had a guitar and some music which I was able to borrow this week so that's been fun.  On Saturday we have parent teacher interviews.  I had to hand in my briefing to the translators today.  I also had to do the unit plans for my courses making this whole year all the more interesting.  Fortunately the teacher before me actually started organizing things so that I do have some computer files to help me, but most of the other new teachers I asked had their year mapped out for them by the senior teachers which is good in one way because they had less work to do, but not so good in another way because I have more freedom to do things the way I want to and even choose the curriculum to some degree, though I would have preferred that more in my second year at the school than now.  Last Sunday I played ultimate to release some of my frustration from Saturday night and this Sunday is the Terry Fox run in Istanbul.  I think we're walking across one of the big suspension bridges in the city which should be cool.  I played some v-ball tonight with some of the other teachers and some of the students were using the other half of the gym.  Most of the foreign teachers live on campus a little ways away from the school and the dorms, but some of the students live in the dorms so it's interesting walking around here at night and seeing the students as well as seeing them in the school after hours.  It was also interesting going to potato night last night and sitting at the same table as my principal and director.  It's a little bit like we're on a commune here.  It's quite a unique teaching situation.  Right now I'm pretty excited about the season premieres of Lost and Battlestar Galactica next month.  Should be fun watching it with other fans here, though I haven't run into any BSG fans yet.  I may be out of luck on that one.  It's getting more difficult to keep the Blob up to date with all of the planning I have to do but I'll do my best.
Sunday September 17th, 2006
Thank you Terry!
Below is the Canadian Ambassador to Turkey and his car.  Terry Fox should have been voted the #1 Canadian.  He is more internationally recognized and the documentary is so moving.  I showed it to my students last April and I cried several times.  Those are the teachers from my
school who went on the walk(above).  You gotta love the pizza here.  It's generally good but similar to Taiwan, they seem to think that everyone wants corn on their pizza!!!  One good thing for me is that jalapenos are a common pizza topping here.  Here's a video of the day (or see youtube below left).  Watch the flag - that's my school.  You'll also see the Ambassador's car and the Ambassador beside me when the walk starts.  The end of the video is me filming myself finishing the walk.  See the following two sites for more on Terry:  Terry Fox, CBC-Top Ten Canadians.  Next week-end I'm off on a student hike to Erikli, Yalova.  Now for week two ...
Sunday September 25th, 2006
The Rollercoaster
Yeah, that's what teaching's all about.  Today was a good day, so I felt happy leaving school.  One of my seven classes, though, is difficult for me.  I feel frustrated when they talk while I'm trying to teach.  Last week I got angry with them and then they were more respectful for the rest of the class.  I'll try some management strategies this week and see how it goes (I dislike that word).  It just blows me away how my two classes today can be so quiet and respectful and yet one class can be so the opposite.  I'm comforted by the fact that this class contains a student for which every teacher at the high school has been briefed.  They don't label students or have individual  
education plans here so we were briefed via e-mail and the teachers teaching the class with this student will be having a lunch meeting this week.  The struggle for me is to separate my feeling about the success of my class from the feeling I go home with at the end of the day.  The odd thing there is also the fact that my feelings about a lesson can often be wrong as I think it is too easy to base the success of a lesson on the wrong things.  The pics are of me in Turkish class.  Yep, those are Birks with socks.  I am breaking code, but it's one of those things that my feet just need.  I feel like I compromised enough with the tie and facial hair thing.  I am quite fascinated with languages.  Turkish grammar is logical with a countable number of exceptions.  Everything is determined by the word endings.  The writing used to be Arabic script but now it's a phonetic Latin script.  Chinese also has a logical grammar, but it uses tones (music) and a non-phonetic artistic writing system.  French and English have innumerable crazy grammar rules, but they are also more expressive languages with their vocabulary.  It makes sense that people around the world came up with such different ideas and rules for speaking.  I just have to look at my students' assignments to see a myriad of ways one set of simple instructions can be interpreted, but it's still so amazing to actually see the differences.  Languages do also affect a culture and I'm curious to learn more about the role of Turkish in the Turks culture.  This commune living thing seems to get more interesting by the week.  The school is becoming more familiar each day and we're all settling into our new friendships.  It's quite different knowing that the people you work with are also your social net.  It was similar for me when I lived on the farm in NH, but I think it's a little more difficult here because we have a more vast set of values and cultures.  Some people here are most challenged by the school politics and teaching methods which so far I can live with.  I'm still in the honeymoon phase so maybe that will change.  I think I'll be most challenged by this whole commune thing which at the same time I think is also cool.