Yesterday was a fall-asleep-while-writing kind of day, so I decided to call it quits and go to sleep rather than post a pile of nonsense. The last two days, Ruth and I have been doing morning walks, so that means a 5AM departure to avoid the heat and the dust. She wanted to do 4AM, but like… how? If we’re eating dinner at 8PM, that already means 8 hours of sleep is impossible. All those nights of little sleep add up to me eventually crashing and going comatose for a whole day. No exaggeration.

Myra managed to wake up to join us yesterday (and by “managed to wake up” I mean “was forced out of bed by her father and not given the option of not coming”), but today it was just me and Ruth (apparently Myra got smart and locked everyone out of her room). We mostly just powerwalked, but it still made me feel good all day. I missed that feeling… you know, of not being a total bum.

Smog-filled sunrise from a trash-filled field.

We walked to a field about 10 minutes from the house and then did some laps around there. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else exercising, but the field was actually a pretty happening place for 5AM! There were a few packs of ladies walking back and forth and some solo guys running/walking/potentially doing yoga but maybe just lying on the ground (corpse pose?). When we got back, I did some stretching and tried to summon back the flexibility and strength that I had 3 weeks ago when I last worked out. Too bad it doesn’t work that way, right?

My first real classes were yesterday, and in both class 9 and class 10, I planned to have the kids read stories from the textbooks. There were only a few issues with that plan: 1) I only have one copy of each book and 2) the reading and comprehension level that the textbook assumes is not even close to right. The vocab and the structure of the included pieces is way more advanced than the kids can handle. I guess I just need to do whatever I can to simplify and over-explain things.

The class 10 period was not great. I wanted to have the kids each read a couple sentences and then pass the book, but everyone whispers when they’re reading and they’re horrible at staying focused and it’s hard to follow along just by listening in a language that’s not your own. I don’t think anyone had any clue what the story was about by the end. I knew that I had to do something different for class 9, so in my one period break, I typed up the class 9 short story and pulled it up on the smartboard so that they could read from there.

That worked so much better!! After each person read, we went through and talked about all of the words that I thought they might not know… which ended up being practically every other word. That was a little discouraging. I don’t have time in the next 4 weeks to catch them up on years of material and language skills, but I am going to see if there are any reading strategies I can teach them so that they at least have some tools to help them in the future. This is a learning process for both of us.

In class 10 today, I typed up their story too, and we completely re-read it. I’m hopeful that maybe it worked? We’ll find out soon enough. Next step is teaching some vocabulary. I picked out words in both stories that I think are good to know, and they will learn them. I’m determined (and determined is one of our vocab words).

The other current struggle is homework. Everyone just copies each other, and with writing assignments, it’s incredibly easy to tell. They all use the exact same words, same order, same errors. I mean, if you’re going to copy, at least put in some effort. I gave them all 3/5 for their copied homework (which I thought was VERY generous… should have been a zero for all of them), wrote “Don’t copy!” on their papers, and outrage ensued.

One person says, “but they copied off of me!” I say, “how am I supposed to know who copied who? All I see is that your answers are the same. And did you let them copy you?” She looks at me with a why-does-that-matter face, “yes.” The next person says, “why did I get a 3/5?!” I say, “did you copy from someone?” “Yes. But why did I get a 3/5??” Oookaaayyy… tomorrow we’re going to have a fun talk about expectations, what “cheating” means, and the importance of homework. Woo! Jenrika, my English teacher friend at school, agrees with me, so at least I have some backup.

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