In the two weeks since school officially started, I have dedicated more than forty hours to study, read nine chapters of textbook material, written an essay and completed three online assignments which were part of our classroom communication requirement. Each day I log in to read the comments of my fellow classmates, writing my own commentary as I contribute to this community discussion, and have gone online to look at some primary sources which are part of an assignment in our 'American History: Pursuit of Happiness' course.
My professional goals this academic year include incorporating a social cause into my conversation course:
We meet once a month for four hours. Each year we work on one particular aspect of English- one year we had book club readings and last year we did 'flash writing' which challenged the students to write very, very quickly on a topic, thus forcing them to think fast in their second language and improve their writing skills and as such, their fluency.
This year we may work to educate ourselves on some world problems in the area of human rights- this may include the plight of women and children in Congo (where rape is used as a weapon) and human trafficking. Then, if this goes well, we are thinking about holding some sort of event in Lucca to raise money for
which helps people all over the world to sponsor events and build awareness of issues.
(Their step by step approach makes organising very easy!)
Another professional goal this year is the building of a community of teachers in my city. This is a new concept as often educators living abroad are polarised and often private language schools may discourage teachers from unifying (in an effort to keep wages down?). Last week I met with fifteen teachers from S. Africa, Australia, Canada, the UK and USA to organise them for work in the training agency where I am a consultant and instructor. It was incredible to see all that potential in one room and it is the first time in my ten years here that we met in an effort to share ideas and network for academic excellence and opportunities.
My daily yoga and walks are keeping me sane and I am making time to see a few friends with whom I share my daily life while keeping in touch with my niece, who is facing interesting challenges this year, my sister, who is a fabulous professor and who guided me in my first essay assignment and the rest of my clan/tribe in the states who are a constant support and inspiration to me.
My investment of time, energy (and money, in the form of a Federal Loan) is paying off in many, many ways.
My students continue to inspire me and I am working toward my 'name it and claim it' goal to work less and earn more in an effort to make room for my studies and stay healthy and motivated as I pursue my version of happiness.