First off, and unrelated to the rest of the post: This week is the 19th year of Viable Paradise, the SF/F writer’s workshop I attended last year. Missing my fellow VP 18ers and wishing lots of fun, enlightenment, and whiskey upon this year’s attendees!
October 30th will mark the end of the first quarter of Mongolia’s school year. It’s hard to believe I’ve been at work for almost two months — the time has flown. I’ve gotten a lot busier as I settle into my routine (hence the lack of posts last week — I desperately wanted to write a VP-related post but needed sleep more).
Here’s what I’m doing in the day-to-day:
I wake up around 6:30, get dressed, eat breakfast, and work out if I have time.
Between 7:30 and 9, depending on my schedule, I leave home. It’s a half-hour walk from my apartment to my school. When the cold gets bitter I’ll probably take a taxi or the bus, but for now it’s a good time to relax and prep mentally for the day.
The secondary school day is divided into 7 periods and lasts from 8am until 1:30. Mongolian teachers’ schedules operate more like a college schedule in the U.S.: you’re expected to be at school when you have class, but can go wherever when you’re not teaching. I show up for the first hour penciled in on my schedule and stay until the last — sometimes this means I’m there all morning and into the afternoon, but other days I only have one or two classes. During the school day I plan and teach lessons with my counterparts, do grammar, writing, or speaking one-on-ones with them, take Kazakh lessons from one teacher, or — if I have a blank hour in my schedule — practice my Kazakh with non-English-speaking teachers and work on my own lesson plans.
My schedule isn’t fixed, because my CPs want me to work with different classes, but I teach about 5-6 40-minute periods a week (10-12 counting lesson planning), do 2-6 hours of Kazakh/English exchange, work through maybe 2-3 one-on-ones, and spend 1-2 periods planning for afternoon classes.
Some afternoons I teach as well: one teachers’ methodology class and two concourse (graduation exam) classes. In the next few weeks I should also be starting an English class for non-English teachers and at least one English club for students. If the class is after 3, I usually trek home for lunch, but if I have an earlier class I eat at the school canteen (which serves хуушуур. only хуушуур).
After class, I go home, finish my workout, and write a little bit if there’s time. Two evenings a week I hold an English class for police officers, and I usually spend two other evenings prepping. Sometimes one of my CPs invites me over for dinner or just to hang out. I try to be in bed by 10:30.
On the weekends, I write, clean, and cook for the week (cafes are a thing here, but instant meals aren’t, so home cooking is a must). I chat with my next-door neighbor, if we’re both around. Some weekends all of us PCVs will be in the aimag center, in which case we hang out!
In two weeks, however, we have the semester break, and I’m told I won’t need to attend any of the teacher development classes happening at the school. I admit I’m looking forward to the break: while I’m working slightly under a 40-hour week, the wide spread of my classes (in terms of scheduling, type, and level) and the chaos of an unpredictable schedule are leaving me a little bit tired.