January 25, 2009

1/25/09 Class Begins, Again

Wow, it's been a busy week that's for sure. On Monday, my classes started again. This term I'm teaching two Pre-Intermediate-2 classes, two Intermediate-1 classes and one Intermediate-2. Today I'm not exactly sure how many students I have since Registrations hasn't been the most organized. After the initial testing, many students failed to show up to register so we started calling students who didn't make the first cut. Plus a lot of students have been asking to be either moved to the same class but at a different time, or moved up a level if possible. In both cases I've tried to accommodate my students if I could but that also means my attendance sheets are a mess. But, in an effort for full disclosure, as of today I have 109 students.

I can't even begin to tell you the difference the start of this semester is compared to my first here in Mongolia (and my first ever teaching period). Even though I am just as busy, I am definitely having more fun. Switching to a different textbook for my Intermediate students really helped even though it meant starting from scratch making new lesson plans. All things considered, I am really looking forward to the rest of the semester.

One thing that shouldn't surprise me is how teaching really has tapped into my creative side. Every day I seem to come up with new ideas (okay that should surprise me or anyone who knows me really well). Just last week I started a new website called at jimbagsh.blogspot.com On this blog I will be posting weekly sound files of me reading current articles of the world's news from sources like the BBC, New York Times, CNN and the Los Angeles Times. Hopefully I'll add others as the semester goes. The idea is that they can see the words in the articles while they listen to me read it. Plus I've decided to post some of my class work online along with more audio files of me reading the material, such as homework and handouts.

One big change this semester is that I am teaching six days a week. Glenda, our new Spiritual Program Coordinator, is teaching a Beginning Buddhism course on Wednesday nights. In order that my English students will have an opportunity to sit in on these classes, I've opted not to teach at the same time. But that means I had to push one of my classes to Saturday morning. And with teaching Geshe-la on Sundays, that completes the week with not time off for good behavior. But I don't mind, really. Saturday's class are my Intermediate-2 students and I hope they have as much fun as I do. It's really just a conversational class; no homework and little quizzes that are more for me to see how I'm doing at teaching the material.

It's been great to spend time talking to Glenda since she arrived almost three weeks ago. She has helped remind myself how important it is to take care of one's self in order to take care of others. With that idea, I really want to start taking time out of my day for things like meditation, yoga, reading, and some other 'just for fun' activities to keep both body and mind charged up and running smoothly. Now if only I could find a Mongolian girlfriend...[smile]...that would take me away from my work a bit. [laugh]

Other than that, not much more to write about. For those following the blog, Bodhichitta, the cat, still hasn't turned up yet, but the staff is still hopeful. She was a street cat for many years before she was adopted by the Center and I'm sure she knows how to take care of herself, even in chilly Mongolia.