Back to school: the good, the bad, and the pretty

I’m always excited for the beginning of a new school year. This year is no different. But I have to say, if the rest of the year continues like yesterday and today, it’s going to be quite a roller coaster ride from here until June.

Yesterday’s staff meeting was full of unpleasant news, some expected and some shocking. Of course, ever since the schools were nationalized last year, the noose has been slowly tightening, and that continued. More regulations. More work. Less money. Fewer opportunities. More students. Less space. And speaking of space, part of our school is being renovated this year: two large-ish classrooms are being turned into a super spiffy new science lab and two small classrooms. The lab will be great, I’m sure, but the loss of classroom space is not exactly making living conditions in the school any better. We will be holding lessons where ever we can, including store rooms and offices. And, of course, all of my lovely plans for developing that one classroom into an “American” classroom are on hold for at least a year – instead of my plans, the room is going to be crammed full of desks (to fit 30 students where previously there were 20) and used as a math classroom.

Today’s English department meeting was hardly any better. I was shocked to discover that one of my favorite colleagues has up and left the school. Not only is it a personal loss for the department, but a professional one as well. Another colleague retired at the end of last year, so we are now two English teachers short and it doesn’t seem like a new one is going to be hired any time soon.

But. Life will go on, and despite the barrage of bad news, there are a few small ways that this year is starting out right. My schedule for the year is about as good as can be expected. I have a lot of lessons, of course, but with fewer different groups of students this year: “only” 11 different classes (compared to 15 least year, and 20+ the year before). I’m going to be an assistant class teacher for one of the incoming classes. I’m teaching a number of courses that I’m practiced and comfortable in, and two new courses that I’m excited about.

And last but certainly not least, how could anyone be depressed about starting the year with such a fun new pencil case and folder? Just a tad matchy-matchy, I guess, but if everything else is going to be chaos, I might as well have something pretty that I can carry with me.

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