Happy Independence Day, Teacher!

This morning began early. I realized that the song study of “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay” using Notability could be aided by using the record function. I recorded the song on each iPad to play the first part of the song in each group. In this way, they wouldn’t have to depend on only my iPad’s volume. I also had to prepare more of the foldables for the 4th grade classes as many of the students had been absent yesterday, and it took much of a class period to create them. I wanted to just go straight from inserting “The (adjective) (noun) (verb) (adjective)” to making sentences with them. I prepared about 20 of them, just in case, and to also use in a teacher training next week. I still have no idea what I am doing on that front.

After all this preparation, I had a quick breakfast (two eggs and a rice flour ball with coconut shavings on top), before heading over to help the drama students with Macbeth. They started a little late, and after only 5 minutes of being there, I was called by Brother Augustine to see an English recitation by the intermediate students. I was able to see their great skills in recitation, but I really wanted to be helping the Macbeth drama students. I suppose we go where we are called to go, and that morning I was called to listen to a recitation and talk to the students briefly about my Independence Day at the end of the program. As the students went to their classes, each of them shook my hand saying, “Happy Independence Day, Teacher!” I never knew that independence could be so celebrated, but on thinking of it now, I can draw the cultural connections to the Sri Lankan context, as a colonized place and later as a place divided by civil war.

After the recitation, I was requested to stay to help the Macbeth students in the theater, which I did, then I stayed to help the Intermediate Drama group with their play about elders. There was a heartbreaking, momentary mention of the effect of the tsunami on the life of one of the elders in the play, wiping out his whole family. The students’ pronunciation was generally spot on, though they needed some more dramatic support. It was really interesting to me to see that students had a class in drama and that many of them were so good in their roles and memorization. The Macbeth came after that. I missed 3 periods in the morning, because of being pulled to dramatic support, these classes that I had spent so much time preparing.

I did get to my 4th class, 11B, which I had for 2 periods, enough time for us to go through “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay”, learn about contractions, the difference between choose and chose (we used a text frame after drawing pictures to illustrate each line in preparation for a storyboard), and terms for making a music video. My last day with them may be on Tuesday, if we don’t leave before 11:30.

For 6th and 7th period, I was with the Fast Learners. We finished the comics, shared them, and then I shared 2 personal stories (scoliosis and my first day of dance class) as a model for the personal stories that they would write on a hardship that they had faced or the happiest memory. This is in preparation for a digital story. I will see them for a total of 5 more class periods, if we don’t leave before 1 on Tuesday.

Today, I had no 8th period, so I headed over with the primary school principal over to exchange the sari that I had bought last night with Liz. It was too short for the dressmaker to fashion into a sari. I was already tired, suffering from a headache, and dehydrated. I needed a rest and a meal. The addition of an hour on the day pushed me over the edge. On my return, I ate and rested, but a short hour wasn’t enough for me to go with Liz to play games for the Independence Day with the Hostel boys. I was dizzy, had a headache, had suffered slight shakes when sleeping. Last night, I had already developed a sore throat, so much so that I was afraid that I would not be able to sing at all today. The soreness of my throat has dissipated, but the rest of the symptoms of a cold compounded by dehydration have not.

I stayed in my room, resting until about 5, when the noise from the boys setting up this evening’s stage was too much for me to continue sleeping. I still have a headache, and I am extremely sensitive to the heat right now. Funny, I had always loved hot, humid days, but I suppose that is only when I’m not walking around in it throughout the day to get from class to class and teaching 8 classes from 7:30-1:30 with only a 20 minute break (and today’s break, I thought I had to run to get money to buy a new sari, rather than exchange what I had. 20 minutes I could have spent sitting down would have been priceless).

If this was every teacher’s schedule all the time here, I just don’t know how they do it. I wonder, too, about the compensation. If teachers can make more money for their families as after school tutors and they are overworked in the schools, it is no wonder that many are absent during the day. Is that the case? I don’t know. I will have to inquire as to that one.

It is 7pm now. The program was supposed to start an hour ago. The saris have not arrived and Brother Nelson has said to Liz, “Don’t worry. She will come.” I am re-learning the lesson, to just let go. Eventually, yes, she will come. The program will begin, and we will have a good time.

In some ways, I have learned to let go. Today’s games with the boys, Liz led, and she determined what to give out and such. Part of my ego began to step in during one of the conversations. It seemed that most things had been decided before we talked, and talking to me was just an attempt to bypass possible hurt feelings or feeling brushed aside by not being included. In the end, though, it’s not about me. It’s not about being acknowledged for any part I had. It’s about celebration, thankfulness, shared community within what here they like to call the “Lasallian Family”. If Liz takes the lead or if I do in whatever, if either of us does not know what will happen and yet eventually it comes together, it doesn’t matter. It is about the children and the Brothers, the Lasallian Family.

Happy 4th of July! Happy Independence Day! May our interdependence make you happy.


11C: “I was here” by Beyonce (song analysis and the introduction of the word “legacy”)

4B: Foldables and the script frame

10E: “I was here” by Beyonce

4C: Foldables and the script frame

12th grade math English: Trigonometry problems, defining terms from the word problems in English

Fast Learners: Personal stories and vocabulary of cinema and digital storytelling

11E: Day 2 of the TESOL program



I just got back from an excellent program put on by the hostel boys and attended by some of the school faculty at St. Xavier’s (specifically the primary school principal who helped Liz and I into our saris), the Brothers, the boys themselves, and the UK group. It was a fantastic program in English and Tamil with dancing at the end of the program. Liz and I wore the saris we bought. We both danced with the boys in our saris. I may never be able to get into my sari top again as it was that tight, but the sari looked absolutely beautiful. More on the program later, but I did record video to use later, if any of it turns out to be of fine quality.

I’m headed to bed, because I am exhausted. Totally. I have no idea how I am going to make it through 8 classes tomorrow and drama practice in the morning. At least, my prep is done.

Off to bed I go.


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