Last week, TLG volunteers were required to meet with the Georgian Education Minister to hear future plans for the education system and to express concerns currently being faced in the school system.
It was a relief to be in a room with other people who shared similar teaching problems, yet I was a bit perplexed as to why we had to make the trek to Kutaisi to hear about them.
Because TLG is a young program, it has many wrinkles to iron out—one being its communication system. Unless I'm friends with a fellow teacher on FB or see them in Zestafoni, I really have no idea what they are experiencing or how they are teaching their kids.
So much hearsay and misunderstanding seems to float in this country, yet I'm amazed at how well things seem to work themselves out in this country.
Despite the setbacks with infrastructure, power, internet and books, the Ministry is optimistic on creating an overall of the entire education system. It plans on bringing in thousands of more Western teachers in the next few years (including German and Italian) to create a population of more than one half that can speak English by 2013.
It's ambitious. It's bold. It's progressive for a country that has a constitution that states it can't fail its students—despite how far behind they are.
Getting passed the Soviet hump is certainly the biggest challenge as most of the teachers in schools outside of new schools in Tbilisi are old and ingrained with the doctrine of "bad students and good students," which pens one side of the room with unmotivated outcasts against one side of those who are more than willing to participate in lessons.
After nearly two months, I'm still struggling with connecting with my teacher, Tamrico. Teaching in the village at a small school, Tamrico is the only English instructor I share a classroom with. My comrades in Zestaponi have at least three they see on a daily basis.
Today, Tamrico and I met with other teachers/co-teaching volunteers for a workshop discussing the problem of lesson planning. I'm hoping the light on the issue will make her want to work as a team in the coming weeks and develop collaborative lesson plans that share the teaching roles and in turn create a more constructive environment that isn't so damn boring.
It's pretty frustrating when you spend more than half of a lesson correcting book mistakes and answering teacher questions instead of actually doing something of relevance.
Most of the kids are pretty comfortable with me now and even give me daps (fist pounds) when I walk in the door, which is why it's quite embarrassing that I'm uncomfortable with them on a classroom level.
I know things take time. But time, money, and bright students/teachers are things the country would be foolish to waste on old habits.