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Today was quite an unusual school day. There was a sports event for all the grade 5 kids, and the other students had a day off. As a consequence lots of teachers had no classes, so our headmaster told us already at the conference last week that we should take advantage of this "day off" to get organized and unpack what's not yet unpacked (because of all the renovations going on all the materials were in boxes, especially for the sciences, they have been packing and unpacking already the whole summer). For mathematics there wasn't a lot to do, since the math material room remains the same at least for another year or so. But for computer science it meant installing one of the new computer rooms. I came a bit late since we had a meeting in the morning with our contact teacher, and when I stepped into the computer room I was a bit surprised. The four teachers working there all had a cigarette in their mouth. Interesting.
In fact there wasn't much left to do since all the "infrastructure" was already there, like tables, computers, screens, etc. I just cleaned some dusty cupboards, plugged in some mice (mouses?) and wrote numbers on the screens. Then the big moment came and we wanted to test the installation. So we turned on all the screens and computers. It was already a bit strange, since the screens were going on and off with a clicking noise. Then there was smoke, coming out of one of the screens, then out of one of the computers. Interesting.
We hectically turned off all the other screens and computers and left the electrician there alone to fix everything. Though I doubt the screen can be fixed, there was quite some smoke, never seen that. We went to one of the teachers rooms to take a break. Usually there is one big room for all the teachers, but the new one is not ready yet, so right now there are three old classrooms designated as teachers rooms. One of them is the "information room", where all the shelves are for the teachers and where important announcements are being put up on the door. Another one is the "smokers room" I would say, and guess who is there most of the time? My computer science colleagues. So of course we went there to have a break. Needless to say, cigarettes in the break. Despite the resolution to have smoke-free schools in the whole state. They even have a fridge in that room. And in that fridge, surprise surprise, they had beer. Have a break, have a beer. Interesting.

Conclusions of the day:

  • Always test the sockets before plugging in computers, even if real electricians installed the sockets.

  • My computer science colleagues are actually really nice guys, though they might not appear like that in my story. I am just a bit different. But still we had a lot of fun this morning.

  • Teachers are like students: When the students are not in the room they behave badly and the situation gets a bit out of hand.

  • Don't use any of the given information against me or my colleagues.

4.9.06 16:21

Surprise surprise

Today in the teachers room, the break before the computer science classes that I wanted to observe, teacher x: "So you and I will have two grade 8 classes together now, [teacher y] is sick."
Me: "uhm, ok".
So I held my first class today without knowing anything about the curriculum what they're supposed to do, without knowing how the students get their computers working (like account names and user names and passwords to get started), in the new computer science room that almost exploded yesterday. But since they didnt really give me any time to think about it I wasn't nervous at all, and I wasn't really left alone. Teacher x came with me in the class to get started, and when everything was working (surprisingly!) he left to his class. And I didn't really have to do a lot since they had an exercise to work on (getting started in MS Word), so it was totally fine.

Whereas in the second grade 8 class (that I was also supposed to take over) the server all of a sudden didnt react any more and it seemed like the hard drive is broken, so we had to send the kids home early, because they couldnt access the computer accounts any more. And I wonder if there's anybody who can fix the server. Not me in any case.

I think my computer science experiences at that school might be really interesting. Though what they're doing in grade 8 I wouldn't call computer science. It's more like getting to know standard software, learning how to use the computer etc. But I meant more my cs colleagues, because they are really laid back, 'don't worry, everything will be fine', etc. Whereas I am more of the worrying kind and trying to think of everything in advance (which is impossible in school but still I try). So I'm hoping to learn from them how to keep cool. At least it was a good start today.
5.9.06 21:27

Here there and everywhere

I thought I would be able to go to school on a more regular basis. This is actually one of the only weeks where I'm able to go to school every day. Usually I have a seminar at least once a week. Last week and next week I only have two days at my school. That doesnt really make it easy to observe classes continuously. Nevertheless I think I now have a fixed schedule which seems to be ok. Also two of the teachers where I'm observing asked me to hold a lesson, so the first 'real' ones will be on Monday in grade 12 math and grade 5 math. The grade 5 kids (age 10) are still very cute, they always have a lot of questions in the beginning of the lesson, concerning everything what you could possibly think about. You have to be careful not to let everybody ask everything what's on their mind, otherwise you would never be able to do some math....
Today I watched the grade 5 class while sitting in front (usually I sit in the back) - it's really interesting to watch kids' faces. Some really really want to be called when raising their hand to answer a question, they almost stand up and make noises "mm mm". Others just sit there dreaming on and on. And then there are 33 of those little kiddies. Not easy.
20.9.06 20:11

The real stuff

So today I held my first real class at my new school: grade 12 math, integration. It was ok, I felt comfortable up front, I had just planned a bit too much for that lesson. That is, I didn't expect the students to have so many problems with what we wanted to do today, so everything took a bit longer than what I had planned. But that's how it is I guess.
And then when I was observing in grade 5 the teacher asked me to take over for a while because she had to get some photocopies. That was good as well. It's nice to finally get some responsibilities and not just sit around all day. But for now I find grade 12 a lot easier to handle than grade 5.

And all this while I'm still having a cold. This morning I was afraid I wouldn't be able to speak, but then my voice came back, luckily. I've been sick since last thursday, and I feel that now it's time to get rid of that damn cold. I don't like it.
25.9.06 17:40

Episodes of cloudy life

** Episode 1 **

Yesterday evening, 8pm, my apartment. Door bell rings (doesn't happen often). I go to the intercom.
Me: Hello?
Stranger: Uhm, hi. I was supposed to have a job interview at 8pm here in this house.
Me: Ok. And what do you want from me?
(Me thinking it's a stranger who just says a stupid excuse to get into the house to break in somewhere, and who wants me to just push the door opener since I live way up high on the 3rd floor.)
Stranger: Well, I forgot the name where I was supposed to go.
Me: Oh, that's no good.
(Me thinking what the hell is that guy thinking?!)
Me: Well, at least there is no interview taking place in MY apartment tonight.
(After realizing that maybe that guy IS telling the truth.)
Stranger: Ok, I'll try the other apartments then.
Me: Ok bye.

I could have at least said something like - ok, good luck then. But my paranoid mind did not let me think properly.

** Episode 2 **

This morning, 8am, bus stop. A bunch of guys (maybe age 16 or something) walking aimlessly, one of them holding a map, looking for signs, obviously lost. One of the guys was even walking on crutches. I missed the chance of asking them whether I can help them when they walked by me, so I looked at them curiously until finally one of the guys had the guts to come up to me and ask me for directions.
They were like totally wrong. Like about a 10min walk from where they should be. So I asked what they wanted to do there, and the guy replied: "We have our midterms today and we're already 15min late!"

Maybe I should have told them to hop on the bus with me which just came by and was going in the right direction.

What a big advantage it can be to be able to read a map. Or to forget the pride and ask people for help.
27.9.06 16:33

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