One thing that is making the weeks go by fast is the new school schedule. For the first few weeks of school, the boys went home at 12:30 and we were allowed to leave by 1:30. Imagine changing the start and end times for school after the school year has begun! That's exactly what happened. Now the boys go home at 1:15 and teachers can leave at 2:45. Then add on my 45 minute drive home from Mussafa to the Tourist Club district of Abu Dhabi. I'm definitely feeling the extra hours. Not that I'm complaining! All of my western co-workers remember staying at school until 5:00 PM regularly.
It's been years since I taught kids younger than fourth grade. I really didn't have any resources for second graders, especially ELL second graders. So I'm not missing the stuff I left behind, like some of my colleagues are. I've been spending lots of time on the internet finding resources. We bought a printer finally, so I've been able to print the things I need. Since there is no set curriculum and few resources at school, I also spend time planning out what to teach next. I'm very thankful to have a co-teacher in second grade who has experience with younger kids. She constantly has great ideas, and we're learning to work together as a team.
This past week was rough at school. There were quite a few teachers out sick, and there are no substitutes. My students spent about 2 hours each day this week sitting in classrooms watched over by monitors with no planned activities. They came to me in a state of complete chaos. It was up to me to impose some sort of order for the two hours and fifteen minutes of English, math, and science. Needless to say, I wasn't very successful. By Thursday morning, I was really beginning to doubt my ability as an ESL teacher. Then, I got to school and found out the teacher who had been out was back. The kids had a structured day and came to me like different children. I almost cried with relief to realize that it wasn't my teaching that was lacking.
On the home front, we've been exploring options for private school for Abby. She's been a bit isolated from other kids. Mark has yet to make contact with anyone from the homeschoolers group here, and Abby has some friends here at our apartments that attend private school. She thinks she'd like to try it out. The thing is, she needs a report card and records from her last school year in order to apply. One school we talked to said very plainly that they just don't take homeschooled children. So we're a bit stumped. It's a problem that we'll have to overcome, but it might have to wait untilwe get our passport visas sorted. One bureaucratic snafu at a time, thanks.
Last weekend we rented videos from the store across the street. They have a huge selection of American videos in the back, but their main stock is Bollywood. It's great to be able to walk to the video store. Last Thursday night we walked to the video store, then to the Lebanese restaurant for shawarma. On the way to the retaurant we passed a giant traffic jam near the Indian cinema. I don't know how that mess ever got untangled. This past week, my co-worker who lives here in the Abu Dhabi Plaza showed me the nearest teacher supply store. There actually is one in walking distance. I could have spent tons of money, but I restrained myself.
Today we visited the Emirates Palace, a hotel that cost USD$3 billion to build. It was sumptuous, with gold leaf on the domes and marble everywhere. There's a shop that sells antiquities, and their wares were displayed throughout the public parts of the hotel. We saw statues from Anatolia circa 4000 BC, Greek pottery, Roman helmets and coins, and Babylonian bas reliefs. We also saw a buffet that was 650 AED per person (divide by 3.67 to get dollars). Not really our kind of place, but neat to visit.
Tomorrow we plan to take the public bus from Abu Dhabi to the oasis town of Al Ain to see the camel market and the zoo. We promise not to come home with a camel!
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