Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Saying "No" Never Felt so Good

The quote "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part" popped into my head when I said, "No, tomorrow is not possible." (Yok, yarin, in Turkish) to the director of the preschool when she hopped on our bus as it was heading home for the day, handed me the little kindergarten lesson plan form, and requested March's lesson plans be on her desk tomorrow.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind completing the lesson plan form. And I could just copy word for word what is in the front of the kindergarten English text book like some of the other teachers do and call that a "plan." And they would probably be happy because the form had words on it and, as I often feel, the content really doesn't matter.

But, here's the deal. Last month I was given this same lesson plan form via email while I was on vacation between semester breaks and was asked to complete it (while I was on vacation) so the director could send the monthly letter out to the parents before the start of the new term. Heaven forbid the idea of factoring in a school vacation with an earlier due date. But, the old Penny, who never said "no" jumped right to the task. I spent over three hours writing those general (not even specific, yet) plans with weekly themes, planned vocabulary, support material, etc. and emailed them back on the same day.

On the Monday we returned to school, I walked in with detailed plans for the first week based on my rush-gotta-have-it-now order only to be told by the principal that I had been reassigned to kindergarten (because he had promised the parents that their children would have a native teacher). "No problem, " I said. "Are you @#$%$^ kidding me?" I thought. And hours of work went down the drain.

Later that morning I walked into a brand new class and punted. So... write lesson plans for March? I'm less than eager to get started. And, I have some real problems. First, I can't follow the book just yet, because the children have been taught English in Turkish, if that makes sense. Therefore, they know their colors but they have no classroom vocabulary. For example they can shout "green" but if I say "stand" I'm met with blank stares. Don't even get me started on the words "listen" and "look." Because they don't know classroom words in English, I can't say "open your book" until they know what a "book" is. This means the next couple of weeks are all about teaching English commands and nouns and direction words: "circle, line, sit, stand, glue, crayons, listen, jump, etc."

While writing this blog I been thinking about some of the traditional American kindergarten March ideas: 1) St. Patrick's Day (I could really enjoy a green beer). There are a couple of problems with this theme: shamrocks (shape of a cross), beer, and a saint to name a few. 2)March comes in and goes out like either a lion or a lamb..Now that could work. Tie that into "come in" and "go out" of the classroom as in, you can't "go out" of the classroom when the teacher locks the door from the outside. Or the English teacher can't "come in" when the door is locked. (These are real problems and real "safety concerns that I've voiced but nothing has changed.) Add to that a "lamb is a baby sheep" (family unit: big, little, mom, dad, baby) and I've almost got a month of plans.

OK, so I've got some ideas. But, just because I'm feeling a little annoyed, they won't get the plans tomorrow. "No" won't mean "no" if I cave in now.

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