Saturday, August 25, 2007

I see with me little eyes...

Well, the town is overrun my dogs. They are the constant. I have had dogs pawing at my classroom window as I try to work, and see gangs of them as I make my way to work. They always seem to be playing though, so they keep me happy.

Then, on Friday, I saw my first first real signs of nature (well kinda). As I waited for the bus I noticed a little blackish rodent running around in the parking lot across from my place. Then it crossed the street, jumping cutely down the cement edges. I commented that I thought I was seeming a chubby little mouse, but was told it was a shrew (like from the episode of the Simpson's where Homer and Mr. Burns get buried in the cabin...).

Then, on the way home on the bus, we say a red fox (much like the one in the pic) that was jumping through the woods.

Other than not seeing the Canadian flag regularly (like across the road from my old place, in Mr. Lee's window), I miss squirrels. There are no squirrels up here. It's strange. I have never lived in a place where I didn't see the occasional squirrel (Moncton has few, but some).

Colourful Schefferville

So, I decided to take a walk today with my camera so that I can better let you (my friends and family) where I am living. So, as I left my door (seen above) I remembered that I had forgotten to tell of the "gift" I received. On Tuesday morning, as I left for work I found a can of beer, left with some care, on my step. There were also several (about 6) empties. My neighbor let me know that several of the town drunks had been drinking behind "Bla Bla" the town restaurant on Monday afternoon- evening. We guessed that in their inebriation, as they walked all the way across the street, they must have gotten tired and thirsty and decided to stop for a refreshment. The most interesting part is that they were so out of it that they had forgotten their last beer.

Then I continued on my walk, and at the end of the street is the Northern. The town store. It is usually packed with smokers (age 10 and up) standing at the door, and even just inside. So as I walked by, at 3:00pm, I noticed one of the town drunks facing the side wall of the store. It was a few seconds before I realized that he was urinating on the building. I had to hold back from both laughing and taking a picture.

Then I approached the back of the store, where there are two sculptures that the bus passes daily. And that represent some of the only art in the city. I noticed only yesterday that one was a miner (Schefferville has a long history as a mining town). I took my first photo, and realized and laughed about the anatomical correctness with which the sculpture was build. The second sculpture was, as usual, covered in children who have no park to play. The streets and lawns are so full of broken glass that this may be the safest place to play. Far from the street, homes and bar.

Across the lake one can see what is left of the old train. Apparently it takes 12-14 hours to get from here to Sept Illes, and even longer to Montreal. I think I will take the train home on holiday's. The little 9 seat plane hit a lot of turbulence on the way here.

Next it the infamous cross, similar to that which used to keep me awake when I lived in the tailor park.

Next, the ever present reminder that I'm not in my home province. The blue and white flags outnumber even the Naskapi national flag. There are only two Canadian flags in the region. One on the restaurant, the other on the school. Something else I found interesting, there is no Oh Canada. Instead they play the lord's prayer in the morning, and it's in Naskapi. So I don't even get to understand it.

Yes, then there is this piece, located at the end of my street. It has a very Austrian feel with the black and red bird, which reminds the town of the past riches it had while mining. Apparently, some talks are occurring between between a Newfoundland company and the Kawawa band. But not much is known.

Then to end the tour is the constant, even here in Schefferville, the CBC. Mind you that I had to create a makeshift antenna, but never the less it is coming in.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hard work I tell ya...

Today was the first day of classes. It was decided that it would only be a half day (go till lunch), so the students would only have three periods. Lucky me, I had preps for the first two classes. Then I had my secondary five English class third period. I had been nervous to prepare a room full of students to take the exiting exam, but figured I would do fine. The bell rang, and my first student walked through the door, had a seat, and started the questionnaire I had prepared for the class. Five minutes went by, and I found the principal in the hall and asked him where the rest of my students were (having expected 9-14). He said the lists still weren't ready, but that he would finish them now and try to get me more students. So I pulled up a chair and started to get to know my student. Faculty are called by first name, so it was kind of like being at ELP. About 35 minutes into the class the principle came back with a girl and said "that will be about it." Knowing that several students missed the day because they went shopping in Sept Illes I asked "how many more should there be?" The principals reply was "one". That's right! I have a class of three. So much for diverse, opinionated discussions or worrying about having enough books. Then the two students chattered back and forth in Naskapi. Which I am hearing far more than French, so who knows, I may pick it up.
Tomorrow will be another day I'm sure. I have sec. 4 history and art with the sec 2 a's. Which I'm told stands for academic (b for Bad). So right now I feel a little spoiled.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Do you see it?

Well here is what I was talking about. The cross that lights up my living room at night. And the strangest thing is that the power went out last night, but the cross stayed on. Every light in every house was out, but the cross was light up. Go figure.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A quick pic.

Well this is Schefferville from outside my door and window. In the first pic, although it may be difficult to see in the distance, there is a giant white cross atop the hill. This just so happens to light up at night and shine in my living room window. The ground looks a little dirty and gross, but I'm assured that I will forget the ugly first impression, and only remember the snow, which begins in October (enough for snowmobiling on Halloween) and stays till May. I hope I learn to like snow...

My classroom

This is it, my first classroom where I will have my first home room (sec 5) of which several will go on to graduate! I'm excited to meet my class. My schedule looks great. We have a 7 day cycle with 5 classes per day. in a cycle I have Sec 5 English 11 times, Sec. 4 History 9 times, Sec 1 Art 2 times, Sec 2 art 2, remediation once and 10 prep periods (one each day and sometimes 2). I was amazed because we get so few preps in NB (like one/ day). Everything looks good, and my fingers are crossed :)
The one thing that is not in the pictures is the filing cabinet. Being the organized person I am, I spend the greater part of two days reviewing the files and folders inside. I discarded anything that I could not use and made room for tests and files to come. I labeled the now empty folders and worked long and hard to get things the way I wanted. This seemed important to me, to be organized from the very start. That is why on day one, when the key I was given didn't work in the cabinet I went to the VP's office and gut the proper key.
Yesterday, my room looked wonderful, the files and extra boxes had been thrown out and the place looked clean and orderly, so I took these photos. Shortly after the teacher across the hall came to ask if the cabinet I had was my own. Forgetting momentarily that I had needed a different key I replied: " I think so, why?"
He told me that he could not get into the cabinet in his room, so it wasn't his. And so, satisfied my my response, he continued on his search. It wasn't 5 seconds after he left that the notion of what I had done hit me...
I had gone through his lessons, tests and texts and organized them, discarded what I couldn't used and placed the books from within onto my shelves. Oops.
He finally returned and I told him that I had his cabinet, he did not seemed bothered by my rearranging and discarding of his things (thank goodness) and we had a laugh at my waste of time. Then, out of curiosity I wondered over to his room to look at the cabinet that was to be mine. It is an even bigger mess. But has slightly more applicable materials than the cabinet of the sec 3 teacher from across the hall.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'm here!

Well, I thought that I would share some of my early adventures. To start, everything takes time here. You first have to find out who can give you what you want, then you have to physically tract that person down and then wait for them to get you what you want. Hence it taking me 3 days to get the internet. Which is strange because I have an internet antenna on my roof.

I'm living in a 2 bedroom quarter-plex. I have a fellow new teacher living next door (from Newfoundland) and a couple living under me (also from Newfoundland). In fact all the white teachers at the school are from Newfoundland (13 in total), except for one from Saskatchewan and another from the Miramachi. Everyone is nice and willing to do anything for you.

The people in town are nice in general, except that everyone recognizes me as the new teacher. Yesterday I had a crowd of kids at the window pointing at me and saying, "look it's the new teacher!" Then they sat and watched me for 20 minutes as I continued to set up my classroom. Yes, I have my own classroom, and I'll have a homeroom. I've been told that I'm teaching Sec. 5 English, Sec. 4 History and new to me sec 1 and 2 visual art. I'm looking forward to the term, especially now that I don't have to teach econ. The down side it that the province give the kids provincial exams that are worth 40%, unless their is a discrepancy of more than 10% between class grade and test grade- then they take the test grade alone. I was told that history is the class that give most difficulty. 14 of 14 failed first term. and only 9 of 12 passed 2nd term. And they need the class to graduate. So part of me feel like I'm teaching to the test. The same thing in English, but the test is on reading comprehension. And for a lot of the students, English is a second or third language. But my hopes are high and my fingers are crossed that all of my students make the grade (60%).

Today, I had another visitor to my window. A big chocolate lab. He was cute and whining. There are dogs everywhere. I'm resisting the urge to ask if I'm aloud one. It's one more thing to bring home. Speaking of which, it cost an arm and a leg to ship my stuff up. Air canada charged me 230$ for my bags, then in Sept Iles I had to pay 7% per kg over 20kg. That was over 400$.

Okay, now on to some of the pics.
This is my stairwell.

Living room... I hope this is working.


And a bad pic of my bedroom. I'll try to get pics of my classroom tomorrow.