The First Bell

September 1 was the first day of school in Moldova. It is also a national holiday which translates to “The First Bell.” All of the students gathered in the courtyard of the school for a ceremony. There were speeches by the principal, and every 5th grader was given a rose by an upperclassman. Then they walked around the school together. It was very cute. All of the students were dressed to the nines … think little tiny 5th graders in three piece suits. Some of my students dress like this on a daily basis, but on this day everyone was particularly well dressed. I also gave a small speech in Romanian introducing myself, thanking them for having me, and about how happy I was to be at their school.
I just finished my first full week of school, and I am very pleased with how things are going. Students are pretty much the same everywhere, so there are the issues you would expect in America here. My students are more respectful of the teachers here than when I was in school. But cell phones, talking out of turn, cheating, bright students who are bored … it’s all pretty standard.
In general they are very good speakers, and they like the active teaching style I bring to the classroom. We do a lot of games, and I have set up a grading scale that gives them points for doing homework, speaking in class, writing, and being prepared. The students get a rating of one to ten after every class. Most teachers announce it after the bell, but some don’t. I give the students pieces of paper with their grades written on it, and if they want to talk to me after class about their grades they can. My grading scale is pretty specific, and they get good notes just for trying. You don’t lose any points for making mistakes.
I think you’ll find that in America all the students already know who is getting good marks and who isn’t, and the students always have the opportunity to try harder. It’s the same here; the only change is who is doing the telling. My main objective right now is to bring a fun teaching style to the classroom and help students not be afraid to make mistakes. Part of that is encouraging students to try, and part of it is encouraging my partner teachers to let the students experiment with the language. I can’t really do a lot about how Moldovans feel about privacy. That’s just a cultural thing.
I teach 18 hours a week with a partner. PC is all about sustainability, so it’s important to improve the language skills of the Moldovan English teachers and to show them new ways of developing lessons. I teach 5 classes on Monday, 6 on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday, and 3 on Friday. Both my partners have planning all day on Thursday.
It’s so fun, and I think there is a lot of good work to do here. I’m pretty popular just by way of being the American. The kids are always talking to me, and my partner teachers are always asking me how I knew such and such student that I was talking to. I usually don’t know the students, but they just talk to me because I’m friendly and a novelty here. I’ll probably miss that when I make my way back to SUA.


Author: Bre

I am in motion and in transition right now. I married Tim Knoll less than a year ago, and we recently applied to The Peace Corps. I work as a freelance journalist.

4 thoughts on “The First Bell”

  1. You sound so excited and I am so happy and proud of you. I love reading your writings just like the kids in Moldova like to talk with you.
    Love you keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for keeping up with us Jessica. We’re having a great time, just extremely busy. I’ll try to post soon. Hope things are going well with you. Drop me an email sometime and let me know how you are.

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