Thursday, March 15, 2007

Move along, nothing to see here

A plaque in Devonport:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

How I'm spending my summer non-vacation

Did you know that everything is the opposite of the US in New Zealand? Students go to school in the summer, boys play jump rope in high school, and teachers can actually pay the bills on a first year teacher's salary.

Of course I'm speaking with a bit of hyperbole, but not much. Indeed, it's summer right now and school started for me 5 weeks ago. While I was baking away in my office last week I wandered over to the window to get a bit of a breeze. My shared window looks out over one of the sports fields, and what do I spy on the far edge of the PE activities but a group of students playing jump rope. Blink, blink. At a boys' high school. Blink, blink. Later that day I was talking with the boys on the tennis team I manage, and I mentioned that boys don't jump rope in the States. Nor do they usually play volleyball competitively in high school. They were aghast; volleyball is one of the more popular sports for boys here. "Skipping rope is," they added. We all had a good chuckle about those backward Americans that were stuck down in the Northern Hemisphere.

Of course there are those things that span cultures as well. Boys still scratch themselves flagrantly in public places, their feet smell just as bad (if not worse) down here, and I'm realising that teaching is basically the same no matter where you do it. Given a little support and respect, every day can be productive and enjoyable. And, of course, we all have our off days.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) my life is revolving pleasantly around my work these days. Sorry about the lack of blog posts, but I just haven't really done much in the last month or so. I get to work while the sun rises over Rangitoto Island, which I can barely see from my office window, and I typically don't finish my day until about 6 pm. Monday nights I go back to school for an evening Maori language course that is run through our Community Education department. Teachers study for free and partners get in half price, so Peter's taking a Russian conversation class on Tuesdays.

Saturday mornings I cheer on the tennis team that I "manage." I've not been asked to coach, but instead to organise a group of boys to play socially. We practice once a week if they are done with their homework and I go to their matches every Saturday to keep score. So my Saturday mornings are spent outside in the sun with a group of friendly young men who enjoy playing a sport simply for the fun of it. Things could be worse; I could be asked to coach pee wee soccer in the suburbs of America.

I've had some requests to share my experience teaching in New Zealand schools. My goal is to set up a separate blog for that purpose. Watch this space, as they say, for the upcoming URL. I'm probably going to get that going come the end of the first quarter of school. That's coming up in-yikes!-4 weeks. Man! Time flies when you're having fun.

Pictures of my school will be forthcoming as well once I figure out if it's legal for me to go snapping photos of my workplace to post on the net.