вівторок, березня 13, 2007

I never thought I'd see the day...

I've been waiting for this day all year...the 7th form average on their spelling tests was 51%!!! (We've generally been at the 30-40% mark.) Over half the kids got 5/10 right or better. And, I gave them an assignment yesterday to write a poem about their favorite sport (based on the wh-questions and working from a model I gave them), and half the class did it. One boy even wrote about snowboarding rather than the sports we've been studying...yay for creativity! I'm so proud of my kids!

However, my bubble was burst just a bit when I told their homeroom teacher. She showed no interest in all my kids who usually do poorly and are now starting to improve, but complained that I gave a low mark (7/10) to Dasha, who I'll admit is smart but doesn't study her vocabulary words and has a bit of an attitude. "You can put what you want in your own grade book," she told me, "but in the official grade book Dasha has to have good marks. She's [the Ukrainian equivalent of an honor roll student]." This drives me up the wall. First, the Ukrainian school mindset that certain students are "smart" and others are "dumb"...and that this doesn't change from 5th to 11th form. If you've been labeled mediocre, you'll always be mediocre, which makes the slower kids stop trying, basically. Secondly, this wasn't a subjective grade. Dasha only spelled 7 words out of 10 right. It had nothing to do with what I think of Dasha or any attitude she might have had. It was simply how many she got right.

Oleh, by the way, got 10/10. He'd gotten 11/10 last time (thanks to the bonus word), and Nelya had wondered if he was cheating, so I moved him to a different seat and kept a close eye on him. He didn't do worse, but the kid who usually sits next to him did. :) Viktor and Nadia have gotten a tutor to help the kids out with English, and the results are showing. I just hope it will show up in their semester grades (which I don't give).


My birthday presents from friends here have included: a blue plush unidentifiable stuffed animal that plays a Russian pop song when you push its stomach from Julia, the girl I tutor; a picture of an outdoor scene with a Bible verse on it in Russian from Andrey and Ira; and a mug with apples on it and a light-up glitzy fake rose from the Y kids, which was in a Barbie gift bag (I detect Vlada's hand in this). It's nice to have friends. And the picture and the mug are very nice...I guess I'm not culturally acclimated enough yet to truly appreciate the other gifts like they deserve.

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