Out and About

Out and About

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blackboard Issues

Well, I teach English in a public school. During lunch time, I teach a short, 1 hour English class to a select few Czech students whose parents have decided they want to pay forward a bit of extra cash so their kids can learn English for 1 hour, twice a week. I teach in the classroom of a Czech teacher, and as I teach during the lunch hour, it's empty, apart from the teacher wandering in and out, eating her lunch, and grading papers. She is a very nice teacher, always says hello to me (in Czech of course) and even gave me a piece of banana bread once! However, she speaks no English. Literally, none. I have tried saying things in English to her, just to make casual conversation, because I definitely cannot do that in Czech, and there is an insurmountable language barrier between us. I deal with it; smiling and saying hello and goodbye will just have to suffice.

However, I walk into the classroom one day and see this sign on the chalkboard.

When I first see it, I stare at it. I didn't think it was for me, because I consider myself a generally courteous person - I would never use her board and then not clean it. But then I stared at it some more and realized that of COURSE it is meant for me, who else in that school speaks English?? None of the teachers speak English, except the young one on the opposite side of the building. This teacher must have done some serious Google Translating at home. I feel offended because I do indeed clean the board, so where is the problem?

I continue as I always did, using the board and cleaning it after every lesson. Then, a couple weeks later, (last Friday to be exact), I had the good luck that one of the student's mothers (who speaks English!) dropped him off at the class. As I was chatting with her, the teacher walked up to me hastily and started going off in Czech. She seemed more worried than angry. After she finished talking I stared at her, then looked at the child's mother. I had an inkling that I knew what this rant was about, and I was correct. The mother explained that the teacher would like me to clean the board when I am done using it. I told the mother that I do indeed clean the board after every lesson. The mother translated for me and then the teacher told her that I don't clean it well, there are always streaks, and that I need to rinse out the eraser with water. I told the mother that I do, how else would I clean a blackboard? Anyway, this went on for a minute and I surrendered and said I will try harder. Quite frankly, I don't know what more I can do. Next week I will bring in some bleach and sandpaper and just go at it. Next paycheck, I'm buying this woman a whiteboard.

1 comment: