Getting it done.
02/27/2010 - 03/05/2010 90 °F
I haven’t seen the beach in weeks ... two weeks ... that doesn’t really sound like much of a hardship to some people does it? I guess I could have ponied up the 40 cents and just gone to the beach for an hour. Whatever. My point is that I’ve been working really hard. I do manage to get out for a couple of beers now and then. Now I understand how some things can drive you to drink but nothing really drives you to beach.
I’m still loving my home stay situation. The food is still great. The family is great. Lots of good old fashioned clowning around in this house. Since Daniel left last week I’ve been hanging out with Viola and her friends from COSI a little bit. We go to a pretty good Gelato place in Quepos and chit-chat for awhile. It’s a nice break. Lots of girls here doing TEFL and COSI. It’s at least a 60/40 split girl/boys ... maybe more. That’s not a complaint. I wonder what the missing guys are doing? I bet they’re sitting on their super comfortable Pottery Barn slip-cover couch watching sports on their new 46” LCD Hi-Def TVs. That’s what I’d do ...
Forgot to mention that I broke the family car here last week. Yorleny was telling me that there was an iguana in the tree across the alley. I can never tell when she’s messing with my head. I didn’t see an iguana so I stepped on the bumper of the car to get a better view. Yorleny and Juan yell, “DAN! NO!”. Too late. Crunch. The end of the bumper broke off. Turns out Juan had broken it earlier when he backed into a utility pole. He glued the end back on with epoxy and that’s where I happened to step to see the phantom iguana. They laid the all too familiar now “ah, Dan” on me. I hear this expression a lot from them, usually when my bad Spanish leads me down some weird conversational path that makes no sense ... or when I do something stupid. There is no iguana in the tree across the alley. Probably 40 percent of the car is held together with epoxy. I don’t go near it anymore.
Lots of work to do this weekend. I have to get my materials ready for a lesson on Monday at 4:30 and another lesson plan ready for approval by noon Monday. Haven’t I done this before? Monday I teach upper intermediate students about countable and uncountable nouns. Tuesday I teach the same group how to use both, either, and neither. I can do that.
Monday’s lesson went off OK. I spent a little too much time eliciting vocabulary and teaching grammar and ran short on time for the communicative exercise. That’s kind of a problem since the whole lesson is geared towards the communicative. Tuesday’s lesson went really well. It was a great way to finish. Am I finished? Shit. No. I also have to do a one on one teaching session. For the one on one teaching session we are expected to find our own student. I briefly toyed with the idea of finding the hooker who rubbed the hair off my leg at Wacky Wanda’s a couple of weeks ago. Probably not a good idea ... she would most likely charge me. Coming up with a context for the lesson might be a little awkward too. Funny to think about though. Feel free to continue this train of thought on your own. Carolina would be my student. She’s the fourteen year old that lives here. She’s kind of a wise ass and likes to clown around a lot (like everyone else here) so I’ll need to make the lesson entertaining or she’ll just give me an “Ah, Dan” and walk away. I wound up doing a lot of charades to Elicit the new vocabulary from her. She got a kick out of that and I’ve had to repeat some of the performances for friends and family. Anyway she knows how to use always, never, and sometimes now. Dan always does the dishes. Carolina always stares at the mirror. Dan sometimes forgets the keys. She ended the lesson when she had had enough. I delivered the lesson on Thursday morning and then headed over to school for my jobs meeting and to prepare for administering the test. My last day of work ... I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
On Wednesday I spent the whole day creating a test for the upper intermediate students with my partner, Ed. This was a bit of a project. We had to pull vocabulary and grammar together from all of the upper intermediate lessons, some of which we had no knowledge of (unless we looked in the folder that had all of the lesson plans in it). The test was divided into five sections: listening, speaking, reading, grammar, and writing. Once we pulled all of the test questions together we had to come up with rubrics for grading the test. Rubric ... this is not the character from the Steve Martin, Michael Cain movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels ... that was Ruprecht. I felt a bit like Ruprecht when we were developing the rubrics. Some of our rubrics were a little (a lot) subjective so Danielle made us rework them. Once Danielle signed off on our test I began to feel done with the course. All I had left to do was administer the test. I had the easy part, the listening section. All I had to do was read a paragraph to the students three times over a period of ten minutes while they answered questions about the material I was reading. Ed had the tough part, the speaking portion of the test. He had to try to keep the students speaking and steer them towards using some of the new grammar and vocabulary while grading them using the rubrics that we had developed. Lucky for him there were only two students taking our test.
What else? ... I’m almost done. I spent a few hours trying to bend my software engineering resume into a teacher resume. I had a “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” conversation with Heidi about all the technical stuff on my resume and how we could make it more teachery. That was entertaining. For awhile there she thought I developed Java and she thought that was pretty awesome. She told me that I was “adept at integrating technology into the classroom.” Not sure how or when I became adept at integrating technology into the classroom but I’m pretty proud of myself. The resume is as good as it’s going to get. We’ll see what happens.
After administering and grading the test on Thursday night and then filling out the obligatory self reflection sheet I was done. I gathered all the materials that I needed to turn in and shoved them at Heidi. Here. Take this. I want to be done now. And that was it. I didn’t have to do any more work. We were supposed to be back at school at 1:00 Friday afternoon for graduation.
Needless to say everyone was pretty happy at this point. Those of us that lived with Tico families went home, got some dinner, showered, picked up some beer and returned to the school. We spent the whole night at the school listening to music, playing goofy games and generally enjoying everyones post stress company. I wound up talking to one of the pre-intermediate students for awhile. His English was exactly as bad as my Spanish so we got along great. The party finally ended around 4:00 AM when the Australian girl that we all know and love fell asleep on the deck and I was left with nobody to talk to.
I rolled into school Friday afternoon a little before 1:00 feeling a little tired from Thursday night’s fun. No problem. I wouldn’t have to do anything anyway. Wrong. I had to fill out a course feedback form for TEFL Costa Rica and another online feedback form for TEFL International. Son of a ... !! When will it end! A little dramatic I know especially since it only took me fifteen minutes to get it done but that’s how I felt at the time. What can I say? I really really wanted to be all the way done right friggin’ now. Still not done yet. Each of us had to go down to the class room in turn to meet Heidi and Danielle. The moment of truth. I was fifth in line. I was supposed to be fourth but Canadians are sneaky. I went downstairs to the class room and plopped myself down in front of Heidi and Danielle. I was tired and wanting to be done. They were smiley and energetic and having a good time. It was kinda like eeyore talking to two cheer leaders. They gave me a bunch of really nice positive feedback and said that they hoped I would go off and teach somewhere. Then they handed me my TEFL certificate. The heavens opened up and a brilliant light shined down upon me as I held my certificate. I shoved it in my notebook and went back upstairs. DONE. I have my TEFL certificate. Nothing can stop me now.
The school set up a party for us at La Colina, a nice hotel up in Manuel Antonio. There was a couple of pools, a poolside bar, shade, a breeze, ceviche, salsa, spicy bean dip, chips, beer, wine with fruit in it ... whatever that’s called, pretty TEFL girls and music. Perfect. We spent three or four hours there having a great time. At one point four of my classmates were bouncing up and down in the pool in unison. I asked what they were doing. They said they were buoys. O.K. Everyone was cutting loose. We had a good dinner there and whatever we wanted to drink and then we headed over to a house in Manuel Antonio. I really didn’t want to leave La Colina but where we wound up was great too. By this time the last traces of any attempted professional decorum were long gone. It was just pure fun. It felt so good to be able to do whatever I wanted without thinking about a lesson plan or a resume or making sure I modeled well. A couple of others and I pooped out around 10:00. After a few goodbyes (that sucked) we took a cab back to our home stays and that was it ... the end of Chapter 2 of my trip to Costa Rica.