I really thought I would write another post last weekend but I was too much in the throws of trying to get everything ready to start school last Monday. I have felt really crunched for time since being in Albania. It is not just getting up and started in a new school but all of the adjustments to living in a new country are keeping us very busy. For example, there are several small grocery stores (or markets as they are called here) close to our apartment but it is challenging to figure out what to buy. Everything is written in either Albanian or Italian plus we simply are not familiar with the items in the store. Each time I go to the market I try to buy at least one totally unknown or new item just so we can try and figure out what different things are. We are also continuing to get our apartment set up a bit more. Although it is nicely furnished there are still some needed things. This weekend the goal is to get some more lighting into our living room so will be taking a city bus to a lamp store.
There are about 25 new teachers at Albanian College this year. The first week of teacher training was for the new teachers. We spent a lot of time learning about the school including the international baccalaureate curriculum, Managebac (the equivalent of Fairport’s Schooltool), receiving our class and room assignments. They also ran a class on culture shock which was interesting and helpful. Each evening they had some type of social get-together which you could choose to attend. The pictures above are of two of the outings. The teachers and their families are from places like Australia, the U.K., Ukraine, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Canada, Houston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, North and South Carolina. Many of them are career international teachers who have taught in Thailand, Venezuela, Shanghai, Ghana, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and other countries that I can’t remember. It is so interesting to hear about their experiences and get to know them!
This video is of my classroom on the day that it was assigned to me. It needed to be put in order within a week so it would be ready for the children to come to school to meet their teacher.
This is my very kind husband who was put to work helping to prep my classroom. Thank you, Randy!
Here is my classroom one week later. Hooray, it is ready to welcome first graders!
An interesting fact about the wood furniture in the classroom is that it has all been handmade by local carpenters. Also, notice the air conditioner near the ceiling. Most of the school is air conditioned because of the intense heat for much of the year. The temperatures have been in the low to mid-90’s since we have been here.
Here are the three first grade teachers along with our Albanian Assistants. My Albanian Assistant is standing behind me. Her name is Edlira Byku. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English from a local university. It is difficult to get a teaching position in Albania without experience so it is common for Albanian teachers to work as assistants for a few years and then apply to work in the public schools. Edlira has been a fabulous help not only by translating for me but also she is helping me to understand the ins and outs of Albanian culture. I am so fortunate to be working with her! The woman in the yellow dress is another first grade teacher who is from Chicago and came to teach at Albanian College after teaching for two years in Saudi Arabia. The Asian woman is my “buddy teacher”. She is from Singapore and taught in Shanghai before coming to teach in Albania. Both teachers have been so very generous in sharing their resources and expertise as I get up and going with the international baccalaureate curriculum.
The teacher picture above was taken in the school library. The Albanian College Tirana library has more volumes in it than any other library in the entire country of Albania. Isn’t that amazing?!?! There are no public libraries in Albania. Even though the school library has more volumes than any other library in Albania, the library still has a very limited number of books compared to Dudley School in Fairport.
The school put this banner up for the first day of school. The building that houses Albanian College was previously used as a school to train elite Communists officers.
We were all off of school on Wednesday of this week because it was Mother Teresa Day. Yes, Mother Teresa is from Albania. There are parks and squares named after her in Tirana in addition to various statues of Mother Teresa throughout the city.
I just completed my first week of teaching. I was slated to have 15 children but only 11 of them have shown up so far. 5 of the children speak no English, 2 have some English and the other 4 could be described as being almost fluent English speakers. They are darling children who I am really enjoying so far. I will let you know more about them in my next post.