Journal: 12 April

Originally posted to Ask The Fire, 14 April 2018

Somehow today was the only day of the week that didn't involve an assembly, and I'm forever grateful.

The first period of the day was, again, conferencing with the longterm sub. We made copies and did some basic legwork for the upcoming classes. We're figuring it out. Don't worry.

Today we're getting into procedural texts, or instruction-writing, with the grade 10's. Eventually I'm going to ask the students to write their own how-to guides covering a fairly simple task, but for today we just went over the textual structures and how to work with a given topic. I told them the ballad of Mr. Hahn's sophomore speech class, too, which they thought was funny.

And they got their first assignment from me! It's 250-300 words of instruction on a topic of their choosing, accompanied by one graphic (which will be covered in a later lesson). It's due early next week, and I'm pretty excited to see how they handle it. They're kind of a reserved class, but under the surface they're jokers.

After that class I took some more time to plan and get ready for the next few days, as I have a few lessons on visual media coming up and I'll need presentations for them. I can work on this stuff at home, but if I'm working with images, I should really do it at school. Maria's internet isn't the best.

Then, back into the classroom for the rest of the day. In fourth period I sat in with the department head, who was reading from Tsotsi.

So, there's kind of a story in here. I love Tsotsi, and I'm a little sad I didn't get to teach it, as I don't have any grade 11 classes, but I'm glad I get to see other teachers work with it. Though to be honest, I probably don't know enough about South African history and culture to teach the novel, and this... solidified that sentiment.

There's a bad word in Tsotsi. It's a racial slur that's incredibly offensive here, but I've never heard or seen it before in my life. Before you ask: no, I didn't read aloud from the text and say it in front of a bunch of students. If I had taught the novel, though, and I had read that part aloud, I would have.

For the sake of polite discourse, I won't reprint it here, but here's some resources about the word. The teacher that was with me called it “The K Word,” and said it was pretty close to the American connotations with the N word. Actually, a woman in Johannesburg called a police officer by this rude word upwards of 40 times a while ago, and she actually got jail time for it. It was a historic case.

So I learned something new today, and I'm really glad I didn't read aloud from Tsotsi. I guess it's a badge of honor for the country that I've never heard that word spoken before.

Anyway, after that whole thing, I returned to the same classroom after break for a Matric class. They're doing Life of Pi as their novel, which I somehow haven't read before, but apparently they enjoy it a lot. I'm glad. After that, another short stint with my grade 8 friends (still slogging through Buddy in anticipation for next week's standardized test), and then back home for a little while.

Tonight I went out to Something Good (a little roadhouse by the beach) with Savannah and Jacquita. Savannah's leaving soon, so we got to say goodbye to her. We spent a lot of time out by the beach in the dying sun, pretending our time wasn't coming to an end. I climbed up some rocks and kicked myself for not climbing more rocks more times.

(And to lighten the mood a little: apparently “pink slip” isn't a euphemism for getting fired here. The supplemental lesson schedules got printed on pink paper and slipped into ever teacher's mailbox. I damn near panicked when I came into the staffroom at break.)

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