“Introduction” Meeting

Posted on September 15, 2011 by

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Today I attended my “Introduction” meeting. I think it could have been better.

Basically, we introduced ourselves, said a little bit about our experience teaching, recapped the coteaching workshop from last year, and heard a very small amount of information about the Course Programs, Volunteer Portfolios, Volunteer e-Report, and Accountability Form for school directors.

I was honestly disappointed at how little actual new information I got. I mean, I guess it’s good to get everyone on the same page – and to make sure the school directors and Local English Teachers have the same information as we have – but I would really have liked more.

For instance, they told us we’d be getting new Course Programs… but then didn’t tell us when we’d be getting them. There were slides with examples, but we didn’t get to look at them long enough to see what we’d be dealing with. Ideally, for me, we would have gotten at least one sample program to look at, discuss, and ask questions about.

We also still don’t know what will actually go into these mysterious new Volunteer Portfolios. I saw something about statements of teaching philosophy, examples of lesson plans and student work, and then an action plan at the end. Again, something like an example portfolio and/or instructions on how to actually do all that stuff would have been nice… although maybe our coteachers didn’t need to be there for that. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about this more in the coming weeks, but of course I was hoping it would be covered today.

The E-Reports are apparently going to be the same as the previous weekly/monthly reports… except that I don’t know if they’ll be weekly or monthly, and the website isn’t ready to launch yet. Apparently we’ll be notified when that’s happening, and in the meantime, I guess we use the old monthly reports? Or wait? I don’t know.

One important thing to come out of the meeting was that the directors will be actually reporting to TLG on our schedules, attendance, and other performance stuff. This is important because it lets volunteers know that someone is actually paying attention to whether they show up at work or not. Last semester, this was apparently an issue and I know of several TLGVs who stopped going to classes (to the best of my knowledge, they’ve all left TLG) so now we won’t have that problem anymore.

The one real positive thing I can say I personally got out of the meeting was that there was a real sense of enthusiasm from the Georgian English Teachers about meeting us and having us at their schools. There were five schools represented at the meeting I went to, and some of them had new volunteers and/or new teachers. I feel like the attitude towards having foreigners in schools and in class has changed drastically over the last year – and maybe this is specific to Tbilisi – but I think that this group of teachers was genuinely happy to have us here and to work with us, whereas I think that when TLG started there was a lot of caution and apprehension about the program.

That makes me proud to be a member of TLG – the fact that despite all the hardships and setbacks, the overall impression that TLG volunteers have made among Georgian educators is so positive in such a short time. I think that demand for TLG volunteers is increasing and that Georgian teachers and school officials see our presence here as a good thing for Georgia. It’s nice to feel appreciated.

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