Starting Year Two at Albanian College

My second year of international teaching started on September 3rd with a precious group of 10 grade one children. I was scheduled to have 16 children but as happened last year, they did not all show up. This discrepancy seems to happen primarily in grade one. There is more consistency in the higher grades between the expected number of children and the actual number of children that show up on the first day of school. Anyways, here are my grade one students this year:

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Ana Bela

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Darius

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Emili

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Amela

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Klesti

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Isabella

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Elena

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Donat

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Eden

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Blin

Aren’t they adorable?!?! This year I only have two non-English speakers. Most of the rest of the students have been at Albanian College for up to 3 years, ever since they were three years old. Since many of them have been at the school for so long they have had plenty of time to become fairly proficient in English.

The children are arriving at school and getting their folders and water bottles to bring into the classroom. It is not safe to drink the water in Tirana so there are no water fountains at the school. Instead the children bring water bottles of drinking water from home each day. The school also has water coolers full of bottled water for the children to refill their water bottles as needed.

The children are checking out the toys in their new classroom. Just like my students in the States, the children LOVE playing with the Magna-tiles.

Each day we spend 10-15 minutes using a program called Jolly Phonics to teach the children the letter sounds. Jolly Phonics is a British program that includes songs, hand motions, puppets, rhymes and a book to learn how to write the letters.

Books, books, books, these children love books! Some of the children are already reading and some are on the cusp of learning this skill while some will probably not be reading independently for a couple months. Regardless, they all enjoy our classroom library. You may recognize some of these books as ones that were donated by Dudley School in Fairport, NY.  🙂

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Here, the children and I are discussing how to make a chart to show when the classroom birthdays will be celebrated. This would be a difference between how I teach in the States versus using an inquiry approach that is encouraged at ACT. In the USA I would have the birthdays already posted before school started using some type of visual that I purchased from a teacher supply website. Here the chart is made by the children using their ideas of how to note when they have birthdays. I love this way of giving the kids so much ownership over how the classroom looks and is run.

My birthday was during the second week of school so here are the kids singing happy birthday to me in Albanian.

Here the children are working in small groups to sort pictures as we start our first transdisciplinary theme called Who We Are. At grade one this theme teaches the children about the physical, social and emotional characteristics of ourselves and others. After they sorted the pictures they explained to their peers how they sorted and why.

The children are playing a math game called Collect 20 which is part of the math program adopted by Albanian College. The program is called TERC or Investigations, the same program I used in Fairport a few years ago.

Over the past summer all of our administration resigned and one was fired. 😦 I found out through various emails over the course of the summer. Needless to say, the whole thing was depressing. I had such a good year last year and was looking forward to one more year of teaching and living abroad. Randy and I had many discussions in July and early August as to whether I wanted to return to Albanian College. The deciding factor was that I have grown to love Albania, my students, their parents and the Albanian Assistants I work with. I wanted to try to give it one more year and hopefully have at least a small positive impact on the lives of the people I have met here. Another reason I wanted to return is that I love international teaching and the  way it stretches me to think about my teaching in new ways. We decided we would return to Tirana and if I was miserable in my teaching position we would simply come home to Fairport.

I am happy to report that so far school has gone well. We have an entirely new administration who are working hard to make the best of a difficult situation. As you know from previous posts, I have become friends with many of the other foreign teachers since living here so that helps with the transitions. All the teachers have been very supportive of one another which has gotten school off to a good start. Glad to be here for another year.

Next weekend 17 of the teachers (including me) will be attending all day trainings on Saturday and Sunday (a total of 15 hours). The training is being given by a trainer from the International Baccalaureate community who is flying in. Although I am looking forward to receiving the training, I am not looking forward to teaching for 5 days, training all weekend and then teaching for 5 more days. Ugh!!!!!

4 thoughts on “Starting Year Two at Albanian College

  1. Love this post! I so appreciate your physical and cultural descriptions of the region, as well as explaining differences in school systems between here and there. So, very interesting! The birthday song was so sweet! I know that your colleagues there, as well as your students and their families, are happy that you are with them for another year! We miss you in Fairport, though!💕

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  2. It was good to see you this summer at church. As we all go through changes with administrations, we build our capacity to change and you are doing it daily. Best wishes for the new year.

    Liked by 1 person

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