Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day one at school

Well I survived my first day at school and a lot of what we were taught at orientation came in very handy. 

Unlike Ian I had not met any of my colleagues or principal, so I walked in the gates 30 minutes early to see not a soul in sight and have no idea where I should head. The school is gorgeous though with quotations posted all over the walls and traditional buildings and paintings on all of the eaves and lintels. I soon saw a couple of people who turned out to be English speaking colleagues, and was taken to an office and given a desk quite promptly. Everyone was keen to make me feel welcome and to engage in conversation too. As the time ticked by, more teachers arrived and there was a contingent from India as well as the Bhutanese teachers who had made it back from their hometowns far and wide, and many who were absent due to road blocks in Bhutan and strikes in India. It seems that many of those who want to travel from the west to the east in Bhutan find it easier to exit and travel through India and then re-enter, than to risk the passes and uncertain roads that we have just travelled. That however is not an option for us as we don't have the visas required to go in and out of India.

In no time at all the vice principal arrived and took me into his office and welcomed me personally and gave me a brief outline of the school. While we were talking another new teacher who was straight out of the college in Paro arrived and we discovered that the newly appointed principal had not arrived and therefore things were somewhat chaotic. From his office we headed into a meeting room where the usual first day procedures of forming committees, subject allocation, selection of class teachers and house masters, allocation of other essential responsibilities and extra-curriucular duties were distributed, by a process of volunteering, being volunteered or "by default".  I was not a sure what any of these actually involved and was one of the few who volunteered for anything: in my case the role of class teacher for a class 9 group that I knew I was already teaching English to. I have also landed myself the task of assistant to the co-ordinator of the Literary Club and look forward to discovering exactly what that might involve. I did suggest that I wouldn't be capable of leading it until I at least knew what was involved but I am sure that I will be taking over as soon as is perceived to be possible. There are so many jobs to be done and relatively few staff to do them.

I was only able to understand a quarter or less of what was going on in the meetings, which took up almost all of the entire day as although they usually start in English, they quickly revert to Dzongkha and only key words in English give any meaning to the discussion in my case. Still, I was able to follow enough of what was happening to feel OK about it. I had taken my lunch with me and was glad that I had, when everyone disappeared home for the lunch break. It seems most of the teachers and staff live on campus and that I am the exception in that respect. One very friendly teacher invited me to to her place to eat and that was a relief, as I envisioned myself eating alone in the abandoned staffroom.

I guess that more time will be given to subject planning and groups will be formed for that tomorrow but only time will tell. I must say that everyone seems very relaxed about the responsibilities they have been allocated and the fact that there will be a lot of time given over to organising the celebrating the King's birthday at the beginning of term. It seems unlikely that real classes will start until after then and that there may well be a great deal more reshuffling of roles, as the rest of the teachers and the principal himself arrives.

All in all it was an interesting day and I am trying to learn from the locals and take it as it comes.

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to know that chaos is a universal in education. Makes you feel at home wherever you are.