The Teaching Has Begun

Well, it must be time for a new blog. Another weekend is here, and I am again sitting on the balcony watching the party boats on the Bosphorus. So a lot has happened over the past week, in particular I have started teaching. I’ll say more about that in a minute. First I want to show you a couple of pictures from a walk we do many evenings, from Arnavutkoy (our area) to the next area up the Bosphorus, Bebek. Bebek is a cool area, and we love the walk along the water, and the park at the other end. It’s a joy to see so many people of all ages enjoying the public spaces in Istanbul. The first picture shows some of the many people who fish in the Bosphorus. Lots of people do this, and they have all kinds of elaborate equipment and live fish as bait. The funny thing is that I have never seen anyone catch a fish. I also think that I would not want to eat fish from the Bosphorus, as I think it’s quite polluted (and as much as I would love to go for a swim, I don’t think I would choose the Bosphorus– I miss all the great swimming places in Kingston). I also worry that one day I will get snagged by someone’s fish hook … The second picture is of the park in Bebek

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So, yes, I have had my first week of teaching. I have been fairly stressed about this most of the week, worrying about how I will do and whether I will be able to keep up. But it has gone quite well, all things considered. I’d first like to share my teaching schedule, and I would be interested to hear thoughts from teacher friends. On average, I teach two 80 minute classes a day, though some days it’s one class and others (like today) it’s three. I can’t complain about that, as I know Ontario high school teachers have three classes a day. I do have some other duties, such as cafeteria (40 minutes every two weeks), flag ceremony duty once a week (in this ceremony, school news is given, and then two students get to hold the Turkish flag while the Turkish anthem is sung: I have to say that I love the anthem, and you should really listen to it here), a meeting with the other physics teachers once a week, and library duty once very couple of months. We also have to keep one hour a week open for parents to come and meet with us (I don’t think this happens that often). Finally, I’ll be doing an astronomy club once a week with another teacher after school.

timetable_tjb

Some of my thoughts after this first week, in no particular order:

  • The students are really nice and friendly. I have enjoyed getting to know the students in all of my classes (one student said I teach them physics, and they teach me Turkish– sounds like a good deal to me). I have had no problems with student behaviour, though it is the first week.
  • I have had perfect attendance in my eight grade 9 classes this week, aside from one girl who was late. I have never seen this before! Maybe it’s just because it’s the first week …
  • The students are pretty smart, and pick things up quickly. They easily figure out things like plotting graphs in Excel or Google (the school is pretty heavily into Google classroom, and students use Google docs a lot). I had a couple of students in my Modern Physics class ask me questions about time travel this week. I’m definitely going to have to work to keep them challenged. But that’s a good challenge to have.
  • My fellow teachers are wonderful, in particular my physics colleagues. My mentor Stuart has been incredibly helpful, sharing ideas and resources and being very encouraging.
  • The students are very talented and motivated here. I’ve met several students who speak four languages, and are learning more. Many of them do sports, music, and lots more. Virtually every student here will go to university, about 30% overseas, and the rest in Turkey. Most of them want to get into the very best universities (e.g., Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge)– quite a few do make it, but I also tell students that there are many other good universities (including Canadian ones!).
  • There are over 100 clubs, and every student has to do at least one club (but no more than two). I’m looking forward to the astronomy club. We are planning an evening sky-watching session with the boarding students, and I have lots of ideas, depending on student interest.
  • Students also do community service hours and many projects are happening in Istanbul and throughout Turkey, involving work with people with developmental disabilities, bringing programs to Orphanages and outreach to children in need, including Refugees. A staff team work with students on these projects and Dale is helping.
  • There are lots of holidays during the year! The week after next is the Bayram holiday, and we have the whole week off. There is at least a 4-day weekend every month, so it’s nice to have those breaks.

I think I’ve landed in a pretty good teaching environment. I am going to be busy of course, but I’m pleased by how things have gone so far. It also feels like a really nice community here. We are doing yoga, we went to a book club tonight, we go out for dinner with other teachers, and we feel like we’re settling in. I do miss Kingston at times, but will look forward to returning in the summer.

Let’s end with a cat picture (as you have probably gathered by now, cats are a topic of much discussion on campus). Here’s Dale feeding a few of her furry friends outside our building. Other sightings on the campus include storks and hedgehogs.

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Terry and Dale

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