The teachers went back to work this week after their summer break. The students start next week, and you know what that means?? – A really excited Emily! I love school and the beginning of school. The excitement! The new students. The new start to a profession I love and a community I can help build. I’m so ready.
But this week hasn’t been exactly what I expected and it’s nothing like any start to a school year I have experienced.
For example, a ton of the students were at school this week for a very specific purpose, even though classes don’t start until next week. Students who failed classes last year were given the opportunity to take an exam this week to make up for those classes. If they pass the exams, they move on to the next grade. If not, they have to repeat. The idea is that the students who struggled with classes could have studied over the Christmas/New Years holiday, and can prove they now know the content enough to pass.
It’s interesting though. I have mixed feelings about exams with such high stakes anyway. I do like the idea of another chance for students who have struggled. I don’t like the idea that students could not come to school all year, or somewhat come and not do any of the work throughout the year, and then pass the entire class with a single test. There are just lots of mixed feelings here for me.
There’s also a lot of pressure for the teachers here to have students pass. The exams that I saw this week were decently easy – and the teachers themselves say so. They make them easy so that more students will pass. That’s just the way things are done here.
Because the school is still in flux with number of students, waiting to know how many pass and how many have to repeat, the school hasn’t yet made the schedule for the semester. Some of the teachers don’t know what grades they will be teaching (or in a few cases, what subjects). I’ve been in this position once – my first year, when I found out my subject and grades two weeks before classes started. It was very stressful for me, trying to prepare for the year and feeling like there wasn’t enough time to do so.
The amazing thing here, though, is the teachers are not worried about not knowing. They’re very calm. They’ll teach what they’ll teach, even if they’re handed their schedule next Monday morning on the first day of school. It’s normal. It happens every year.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been conditioned to want to know everything, or if it’s just my couple years of teaching in the states, but these factors certainly are stressful to me. I tend to have a high need for certainty in my life. The unknown sometimes freaks me out.
Who knows…maybe the schools would be better here if they had their schedule already and the teachers could prepare? Or maybe it’s better that they have trust in their system and their administrators to figure it out this week and get them the information they need before school starts? The only thing I know is that I’m way too new here to make judgment calls.
So I sit with my counterparts as they give their exams. Andrew and I volunteered to help our schools make their schedules (with the help of RPCVs Yessica and Carols and the computer program they pointed us to). We’re meeting students and parents, chatting with teachers in the school, and trying to just experience this week.
And there is an excitement in the air; the new start that exists here, too. I may not know what to expect, but I can trust my counterparts to know the way forward.
We would love to hear what you think about this guidepost:
+ Do you feel a need for certainty in your life?
+ What is intuition? What is faith? How do we cultivate and trust them?
Read/join the discussion here.