School in Armenia officially starts on September 1st. As that date quickly approaches, I'll reflect a little bit on the past year and my hopes and dreams, followed by brutal realities, for the two years I have halfway completed as an English Teacher in Armenia.
Everybody who's anybody will tell you that the second year of your Peace Corps Service is drastically different from your first year. The usual reasons are cited: you are more experienced, your language is better, and the people of your community are more familiar with you. These certainly are contributing factors but as I analyze the differences in myself one year ago compared to today, I recognize a few factors that aren't cited as often or maybe just not said as bluntly:
Reasons your second year is better:
- Over half of your grand ideas from last year failed, some of them painfully. You got over it and realized that the only way to get something done is to start on a minuscule level, I'm speaking of ant-hill level.
- You've found your niche, you've found out exactly how and when you can contribute to your workplace. You have also realized that this means you won't be doing ANYTHING on some days.
- You've finally written a to-do list for the next year that can fit on a a post-it note, not an A4, single spaced, typed document.
- You've also realized your limits: I personally will never teach alone in a room with my 8th graders again. EVER. If I find myself in said situation, I will run screaming home to my apartment, lock the door, and not leave for the rest of the week.
So, what are my goals for the next school year?
- Obtain my own copies of the text books we use to teach. Neither my counterpart nor I actually have copies of the textbooks.
- Help my counterpart understand the importance of subject matter review before testing. Testing seems to be random at best in both timing and content.
- Introduce a few new activities to the lessons and refine the popular ones from last year. My counterpart is ALWAYS open to new activities and methods to teach the students, I just have to come up with them.
- Have fun with the kids. This includes laughing silently at their antics during class.