Return of the TMJ

Oh noooo! It’s back! 

For those if you who aren’t familiar with Tmj, let me direct you to my old posts about my first diagnoses back in Florida almost 3 years ago (check out the tmj tag). 

But for those who are, I had surgery for it while I was in Florida (athrocentesis) which didn’t perfectly fix the issue, but I was eating and speaking just fine. 

Until recently. 

Because of the stress of teaching (I’m sure many of you are familiar with that tightness in your forehead and jaw when you’re pissed) and overusing my jaw because of constantly yelling to be heard over the noise, my tmj is making a comeback. 

So much so, I was in tears from pain and anxiety. 

I don’t want to go through this again. I don’t want another surgery, I don’t want to go 2 months on a nearly liquid diet, and frankly, I can’t.  Not in a job where my sole purpose is talking. 

So as my jaw clicks and pops at almost every movement, I wait anxiously for the day it totally locks again. 

Great. 

Throw Your Hands in the Air

And wave em like you just don’t care! 

Which I am. 

Because I don’t. 

Being a teacher is hard, yall. Especially to spoiled, arrogant children.  

Not all of them are bad, but some are.  I honestly believe a hand full of these kids wouldn’t spit on someone if they were on fire. 

This is especially true for my 9th graders.  Two of the four classes are just hopeless.  It’s not like they can’t do the work, they just won’t.  I’ve tried everything.  Picking up unfinished activities in the main course English book, playing games, watching videos, teaching something else in English (e.g. Slavery in the US), projects, the works.  Nothing. Works. 

And I’m sad, because there are at least three students that are actually interested in the topics and want to learn. They even apologize for the others’ bad behavior. But if I have to call the counselor and the principal five times because they are so incredibly rude (I mean, standing in class, shouting to each other, sleeping, talking back in turkish as if I dont understand), I’m not going to waste my time. 

I did my best. I’m just going to be a babysitter for the 40 minutes that class takes in a week. Usually the good students gravitate to me and practice their English 1 on 1 with me anyway. 

Because this negativity just isn’t conducive to my 2017 resolutions

My First Day As An English Teacher in Turkey

Another long title for yall, but what can  I do? 

I’m writing this while I wait for my hubby to get home from work so we can have dinner and talk about my first day, 

And what a day it was! 

For those of you who don’t know, 

1. I live in İzmir, Turkey 

2. My only experience teaching ENGLISH (I taught microbiology lab in uni) was my supervised teaching while getting my CELTA a few months ago… And I taught adults. 

So my stomach was doing little flips when I walked dutifully into my first 5th grade class with lesson plan and board markers.  I mean, we’re only doing ice breakers at first, so what’s the worst that can happen? 

OH but I wait. There was no board.  

That’s OK, we’re using smart boards (glorified TV screens mounted on the wall that runs as a touch screen computer).  OH BUT WAIT 

They deleted every dang thing off the system. Even paint.  Which was there before the holidays. 

So there I am, staring down a group of 10-11 year old, wearing bright red (I thought I’d be able to keep their attention with red) with nothing to do.  My entire lesson depended on the white boards being in. So what did I do? I pulled out some dash darn pieces of computer paper and stuck them on the bulletin board.  Because I am woman, hear me improvise. 

 I was pretty amused that I had planned 4 stages to my lesson and we only got through 2. But the kids couldn’t tell, they loved me anyway. 

The next period I had 9th grade.  I like teenagers, since I’m used to 19/20 year olds. The lesson was OK, not exceptional but not a failure. And I had a board so that was nice. The kids were pretty good. 

I had a break before lunch and had a minute to gather my thoughts for the 4th grade class after our meal. 

The meal we couldn’t eat because there was a line going down the stairs and they ran out of cutlery because they couldn’t wash it fast enough for the 500+ people trying to eat at the same time. 

So we went to the canteen and paid for tost instead of the free lunch we’re due.  I’m sure this hiccup will be solved soon. 

So I go to the fourth grade class and they were quite rambunctious! They got a big kick out of my drawing on the board. God they wouldn’t stop talking! In Turkish! I struggled to keep them on task, but with 15 minutes left they were called to play outside. 

Then I missed a class because of a communication error. But no one was mad.  They didn’t have a board in that classroom anyway.. 

Or the paint application! 

School let the primary kids go early to ease their adjustment, so my last 2 classes were canceled.  

I’m anxious to see what 2nd grade is like! 

All About the CELTA

After one long month of training and a 10 day bayram…

I’m baaaaack

Now I can finally, FINALLY, catch ya’ll up on everything that’s been going on.  Which, I guess, wasn’t all that much from an outside perspective.  But for me and the other CELTA candidates, it was a whole lot!

 So let me rewind.  I started my CELTA course here in Izmir earlier this summer, and it lasted for one month.  CELTA is a teacher training course/program that, after completion, results in a certificate from Cambridge saying you are certified to teach English as a second language.  This is basically accepted everywhere (except in the US and maybe Canada, because we ain’t having none of that British English!), and it never expires.  To learn more, check out the course online.  The thing that I liked about CELTA vs other TOSEL or TEFOL or what have you is that CELTA is accredited by a well known institution, is accepted worldwide (besides the exceptions I gave you), and also gives you hands-on experience. Also, CELTA mostly focuses and works with adult learners, but it is also acceptable for young classrooms.

 You don’t need a degree in English or anything like that, in fact you only need to have passed high school or an equivalent.  But everyone I worked with had a degree of some kind.  But there were a variety of people, from engineers to tourism and business graduates to actual English Teaching graduates and experienced teachers.  And then me, the Food Scientist.

 Let me go into a bit of detail about my experience, for those who are considering CELTA…

  When they say it is completely consuming, it absolutely is.  On day 3 we started teaching.  Well, by “we” I mean someone in our groups.  At the very beginning we were broken into groups of around 6 and assigned a teaching level (elementary or intermediate- the students we would teach, I mean) and a tutor (certified CELTA trainer).  Then, those groups were split into two groups of three, group A and group B.  Groups A and B rotated teaching days (myself, as a B, taught on day 4, while my friends in group A taught on day 3.  Then I would teach again on day 6, while they taught on day 5…etc).  Each person in their respective group were given a 45 minute slot of teaching time, and the three would teach to actual students (ranging in number from 3 to 10, but that was just our classroom. Others had 14+ students) in the mornings.  After that we would have a break, then the teachers would be taught something by the trainers (teaching methods, observing certified teachers, etc). It was an all day event, going from 9am (prepping for the 10am class), to 5.30 pm at the earliest.

 No wonder I wasn’t blogging!

 Aside from teaching (8 lessons in total), we had four assignments to complete.  The assignments were word-counted, some in essay-ish format, and some in other formats that you would have to see to understand. Between planning those lessons and completing the assignments, we were running at full speed!

But assignments are boring, lets talk a bit more about the teaching…

 Our first lessons were basically planned for us.  They told us what our aims and sub aims were (teaching grammar/vocabulary/speaking skills/listening skills), who would teach first, and basically word-for-word what activities you would do, the materials needed (in a course book), and when in the 45 minutes you would execute them.  As we continued our lessons, however, the amount of info decreased.  In lessons 3 and 4 we were given our aims and some suggestions on what to do, and pages in a book.  In lessons 5 and 6, we were given aims and a page number, then by lessons 7 and 8 we had to choose our own aims, what were going to do in our time, who was going to teach at what point in the day, etc.

  While we taught and interacted with real-life students (ranging in age from 20 to 38, in our classroom), our trainers observed us in the back of the room, taking notes on our technique and whatnot.  Unsurprisingly, I talk way too much (but to teach you need to talk right? Maybe not…you’d have to take the CELTA to find out!) and often too fast.  I developed my own teaching style and classroom habits tremendously in only 8 lessons!

  Half way through the course (starting with lesson 5), we changed teaching levels (I began in intermediate then went to elementary, still adult learners) and continued teaching.  When going down in skill level, I found myself struggling to appropriately grade my language.  Even monitoring the tenses you use can be a challenge!  But at the same time, it was quite fun.  The students got a real kick out of it, and the teachers did too!

I know I still have a long way to go in actually learning how to teach (don’t even get me started on the G word…), but this course has given me a whole new boost of confidence when it comes to teaching.  I’m so glad I took this course, even if it ate up a month of my life!  Besides walking away with a teaching certificate, I met some awesome people (some who live here) and have gained a huge new level of independence that was introduced to me through navigating Izmir on my own.  Now I can take on the world!

So long story short…should you take the CELTA as opposed to other, online courses? In my opinion, it is absolutely worth the money and the time.

 I want to give a special shout out to the folks at the CELTA training program in Izmir.  They went above and beyond to make sure we would succeed…and we did!

 Celta certified! 

When I got that email a little over a month ago that said “leave behind everything, you’re starting the CELTA 1 month intensive course program”,  I thought to myself, how hard can it actually be?

I mean,  I’ve done the school thing. I’ve done grad school.  I’ve dug in cow poop in the Florida sun for crying out loud.  I can certainly handle a little month long course.

But dang,  they were not joking!!

THE CELTA IS HARD !

It’s not that the material is hard, but that you barely get to breath for five minutes before you have to turn around and do something else.  My conspicuous absence from social media is a testament to that!

But would I do it all again? Absolutely, without a doubt.  It was an amazing experience that (I think) has helped prepare me tremendously for teaching ESL.  Stay tuned for details about celta in general and my experience.

Yesterday was my last day! And now I’m escaping to the beach for the bayram! I’ll (insallah) be back with all the nitty gritty then!

Teaching, The future, and World Hijab Day!

  I have been neglecting my blog as of late, but I don’t think anyone truely minds, since I am the only one who looks at it… 

  Anyway,  this term I have been teaching the food microbiology lab with three lovely ladies.  We have only officially taught one lab so far, but I think I like it!  As much as a claim to dislike people,  I like to answer questions and explain things to people who don’t understand.  I even threw some doodles on the white board to help explain how to conduct the experiment…I think it helped!  Smart mouths and slack are still irritating to me, but you know what?  Its not my grade! HAH!

 In regards to the future… My husband has been expressing his concerns about returning to Turkey.  The University he signed up under (the one in which he will teach when we return) is not exactly his first choice these days.  Actually, its pretty close to his last (not including those in a region he doesn’t want to travel to).  I tell him all he can do is his best, and if it is nasip (fate) he won’t have to teach there.  I am doing my best to obtain good grades, have good experiences, and prepare myself for a potential job in industry there.  We are hoping (insallah) that if I get a job in the city his family is from that will influence his options for placement when he returns (apparently that’s a thing in Turkey?).  All we can do is wait and see. Hayirlisi olsun.

Lastly, WORLD HIJAB DAY is on Feb 1! I encourage muslims and non-muslims alike to don the hijab for a day as a sign of solidarity with our hijabi sisters.  The hijab has been banned in a few countries, which is explicitely against human rights!  Let’s remind everyone that the right to wear a scarf on ones head belongs to everyone, regardless of race, religion, or country!  Check out the movement at worldhijabday.com or on facebook!

Whirl Wind Week…

  If you were to sign into my wordpress account at this moment, you would find one saved draft of a post from two days ago describing our decision to return to Turkey this coming summer…

  And now I am deleting it.

  It seems my husband has once and for all decided that we should stay here and work our hardest to complete our respective degrees.  I am incredibly proud of him.  This decision has been a struggle for over a month, with so many repercussions to consider.  On Monday afternoon he sent me a message saying that his decision was to leave.  I told my advisor and he explained the procedure to withdraw from the program, and how sure I was this statement was the final decision. 

I said “I dont even know…” and its a good thing I didn’t do it.

The following day the hubby expressed his hesitance to give up his chance at obtaining his PhD.  Around 1.20p, while I was in class, he texted me saying “Let’s do this”…lets stay.  I got back to my advisor that day and I could see his smirking as I walked in his office, as if he knew what I was going to say.  

  Today we met regarding my masters project.  Next semester will be hell.  I will be taking two classes, TAing the most labor intensive lab, and driving 1hr north of here to an extension research facility on a weekly basis.  And it is all a blessing. 

Final projects and exams are coming up…and I better recover from the laziness I have enjoyed whgen I thought my grades wouldn’t matter…!! Hayirlisi olsun!

And so it begins…

 

Not living in Turkey, but graduate school.  Today was the official first day of classes for me, and I’m already worried.  It is amazing what can be forgotten in 3 months, let alone a few years! 

  It’s been a few years since I took the undergraduate equivalents of what I’m taking this semester in graduate school, and that has become all too apparent in the “silly quiz” (as the professor called it) that we took in one of my classes.  She just wanted to see where we were in our level or recollection.  I am the only 1st year masters student in this course (well, there’s only 5 people to begin with) and I have forgotten the most, it seems! I try to tell myself that it’s because I haven’t needed the information required in these particular courses for 2 years.  Now I find myself reviewing old lectures on the topics I have forgotten.  I’m anxious to go to the lab and show how much I’ve forgotten :(.  

  This holds true specifically for one class. The other two seem to be fresher in my mind, having been talked about the last year of my undergraduate experience.  

  Also, I have received a TA-ship (Teaching assistantship) to pay for graduate school.  My first class I am TA-ing holds very little responsibility.  Answer emails from students and help proctor exams.  Fortunately, this class is “new” to the university, but I have taken its equivalent at my undergraduate university and have been beaten about the head and neck with the information supplied in the course.  I hope I do well aiding the students…

  I hope this doesn’t drive me crazy.  Deep breaths. Its worth it, giving me an advantage when we go to Turkey.