Friday, September 21, 2012

Meet My: Co-Teachers

Co-teachers can make or break your time in Cambodia. They have a serious impact on the amount you end up teaching. My school director had chosen my co-teachers for me when I arrived. I worked with 3 co-teachers, all whom have names that start with S, so they shall be S1, S2, and S3.

First is S1. I never really got a good picture of S1. He had been teaching for I think 15 years, and was pretty set in his ways. He was a great teacher when he actually taught. He had another job working for a cell phone company, and since that one paid more, it came first, before teaching. I only taught one 10th grade class with him, but those students were smarter than all of my other classes....probably combined.
S2 is a newer teacher. It was only his second year teaching. He teaches middle school level and is going to school to get his degree to teach high school. He was so great to talk to. We had a lot of great conversations, but he would often want to talk over teaching. Once he told me, "I don't want to teach today, I am sad." I wish that I had pushed him to teach more, but it's hard to know where that line is, especially as a woman interacting with a man. Our 7th grade students were notorious for leaving after their first class if their teacher didn't show up, so we'd go to teach for the second set of classes and no students would be there. I taught 1 7th grade class and 1 8th grade class with him.
He got married suddenly and I was in china so I ended up missing his wedding. It seems like it was kind of a shot gun wedding. I'm not really sure. I couldn't get a straight answer out of anyone.

S3, good ol S3. I was so lucky to have a female co-teacher to work with. She is the only female to teach English at the high school level in my school. I worked with her a lot on my projects and she was my main co-teacher. She started a private English school in our town where students could come and for a rather reasonable price take extra English lessons. She's currently expanding her school to add more classes in things like computer skills. She has so much drive compared to a lot of Cambodian woman and is probably considered a spinster in Cambodia. But she's lovely and she's successful, and she's one of the people I miss the most.
Lastly I'll include my school director, Mr. P as I'll call him here. He was always so friendly and nice to Hal and I. Especially Hal. He really liked hanging out with Hal. He was a supportive school director and never said no to any project I wanted to do. He loved maps and would study English on his own every single night. He always looked out for us and was upset when I didn't turn to him for help when I had dengue. He is a nice guy, but lets his teachers get away with everything.
Between co-teachers not showing up to school and students either not showing up or leaving early teaching English at public schools in Cambodia can be very very difficult. If they do show up, the current text book is pretty horrible and out of date. Thanks to Peace Corps and some partnerships, hopefully that will change soon thanks to a new textbook in development.
But when you do get those moments where you click with the students and they get what you're talking about, they're magical. Those are the moments that get you through the weeks where you end up teaching only one class.

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