Praying That SIZE Doesn’t REALLY Matter

Omri sunflower
Photo by Omri Epstein

I just got a phone call from the high-school.

That in itself is an event worth mentioning.

I was told that work WAS done in the new classroom I’m supposed to move into, as follows:

* The two extra doors were sealed. The “new” room I’m getting used to be the storage room of a large  biology lab that was converted into a classroom for  a 40 student class (standard class size). There were two doors connecting the lab to the storage area from inside, without going out into the hallway. This former storage space is about a third of the size of the room I had. I believe 25 students could fit into my former room.

* An acoustic ceiling was installed.

* An air-conditioner has been ordered, but has not yet arrived.

* I can keep the computer I had but no instructions were left for it to be hooked up to the Internet. That needs to be negotiated with the pricipal (who is currently on vacation) and a direct order given.

* If I come to school tomorrow I will be assigned a student who will help transfer the contents of the two PACKED cupboards of material I left in the old classroom. There is supposed to be a cupboard in the new one. They aren’t moving the old (really old) ones I had.

Needless to say, I’m very excited.

I haven’t seen the room yet.

So many unanswered questions.

I don’t know what the quality of the rennovation work is. Were those addtional two doors sealed well or will I hear everything going on in the 40 student clasroom on the other side of the wall? This is this most critical question for the hard of hearing students (the profoundly deaf students won’t mind, at least, but there are very few students who don’t hear anything at all) and for me.

Will there be room to fit any work stations for our learning center when 8-10 students are actually in the room?

If the answer is “yes”, will students not at a work station be totally distracted by what’s going on at one (some are fun!) because there isn’t enough space between areas?

Will I have to give up, due to lack of space, on some of the materials I have?

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Encountered a “Puffin” in France, too!

At the moment though, my emotional reaction is stronger than logic. Before the classroom that was taken from me, I had had a previous one (it was an air raid shelter that we used, but it worked). That adds up to TWENTY years of working in an English room that I was in charge of.  I even had an English room for a while at one of the elementary schools I taught at more than 25 years ago. For the past few weeks I simply could not “wrap my thoughts around” the picture of me having no designated room at all, teaching every hour in a different part of this HUGE HUGE high-school.

Unless the acoustics are a total disaster, that will be one thing I can stop trying to imagine. Whew!

Tomorrow I’ll get the key…

There’s a British Council English Teacher in Saturday’s Book!

The main character in the second story of Kazuo Ishiguro’s book “Nocturnes, Five Stories of Music and Nightfall” is a British Council English Teacher, based mainly in Spain (some time in Italy and Portugal was spent too).

At first I found that fact quite amusing. I don’t see this profession mentioned often in stories!  However, I wouldn’t suggest that my friends and acquatiances in the British Council teaching system begin recommending this story as a way for their family and friends to have more respect for their profession. Ray, the teacher, is invited to visit his friends back home in England because his presence makes them look better/more successful in comparison…

I LOVED Ishiguro’s books “The Remainder of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go” and enjoyed most of “When We Were Orphans”. I was disappointed by this one. Not by his style of writing – that did not disappoint at all. But the five stories followed a very pattern, like a mold. Perhaps if I had read each story on its own, with a few months between each one, I would have enjoyed them more.

As much as I do believe in the magical power of music, it is depressing to read FIVE stories in a row of loss and missed opportunities, even if music is presented as the one uniting bond. Music can be part of many of life’s experiences, I’d like to believe!

Saturday’s Book: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

This is a cleverly written book, with a couple of surprises.

It was a good choice as an audio-book (the first one of my gift!) as it has two readers. The story is told in turn, by “him” and her”.

Despite all of that, I can only say I mostly like the book. Parts of it are sort of like a mix of the TV shows “Sex and the City” and “How I Met your Mother” with American crime programs mixed in. Although many people in the story are grappling with authentic, real life problems (unemployment, an aging parent with Alzheimer’s,etc) sometimes I simply don’t feel the level of empathy with the characters I ususally do. Many of the characters whom I read about in books live a life different from my own, yet there are points where this book just feels like a TV show. And I don’t have much patience for TV anymore.

Nonetheless, this has been a stressful week for me and having this book to listen to helped me get things done and stop thinking about other things. And the readers are GOOD!

How do I “Unlearn” Using EDTECH in class?


Photo by Gil Epshtein
Photo by Gil Epshtein

I began using computers in class when we had XT computers, floppy discs and a word processing program called Einstein.

For many years I advanced slowly, my main source of knowledge coming from ETAI teacher conferences, which I usually attended once a year.

Since I began blogging, more than two and a half years ago, the pace of advance increased dramatically. Especially as all my descriptions of the  new things I needed the computer to do, but it couldn’t, got me a better computer and and later an Internet connection. The woman in charge of the computers really likes me…

Since then the computer has become such an integral part of the learning center which is my classroom, that it  is in use almost at all times. The schedule in a learning center is very complex and changes frequently, so it was always open in one window.  We have a class website. Homework is given online, using google forms, YouTube and various websites. Edmodo and a blog is used to connect with high schools for the deaf around the world. Quizlet is used to practice vocabulary. At the end of the day even Solitaire is not frowned on, when a student who deosn’t even have a lesson hangs out until his transportation home arrives.

We’re on vacation now. A kind soul leaked the information to me that because the school is expanding, my class will be rennovated for use for a hearing group. They can’t let a space that can fit 20 students a lesson continue to be used  by an average of 8 deaf and hard of hearing students who have work stations around the room. I say “leaked” because nobody considered it necessary to inform me officially. I’ve only been using this particular room for about 15 years.


My new room will be a third of its size. Assuming that it will be ready for use by the end of August. At the moment it is totally unsuitable for teaching students with a hearing loss. It has to be renovated. I was told that there is no official objection to me having a computer in the new room but that would require a better door and bars on the windows. No one will deal with that before the acoustic rennovations have been done. My guess is that I will begin the year teaching every hour in another classroom.

After losing quite a bit of sleep over this, I have decided I can’t “unlearn” use of Edtech in class.

If the school is closing doors for me, I will go down the road of phone apps. I feel a bit better now.