Exhibit Food-1: This Tuesday picture smells like a savory slow
cooker makes your house smell on cold February evenings. Real good.

*I’ve sat on this post for far too long… it was much weirder and prone to tangents in it’s original version and I was just never happy with it. Here’s the heavily-edited version I’m ready to share – finally! Just in time to write about second semester!

2013 Report Card
Subject: Teacher Ben
Semester: Fall
Year: 2013
Transcript taken: 3/2014
Location: Public Schools, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Teacher Ben: Grand Teaching Authority, employers, and parents, welcome. Spanish Inquisition, I wasn’t expecting you, but welcome.

Grand Teaching Authority: Welcome. Please state your name for the record.

Teacher Ben: Teacher Ben

GTA: Do you know why you are here?

TB: This hearing is being held to briefly summarize and characterize my first year in the ESL teaching field, document my journey, and generally be a postmortem for setting goals in 2014.

GTA: I see you’ve brought visual evidence and a cat on a leash. I love leashes on small animals. Would you like a biscuit before we start?

(At this point, the Reader is invited to hit the jump and join our group down the rabbit hole of Vietnamese ESL teaching for a transcript of the entire Report Card…)

TB: Yes, thank you. I do so love biscuits. Also cats on leashes.

Exhibit  B-1: The Viet Adonis
 in Orange and Green. Taught in Grade 7.

GTA: Where will you start this review?

TB: I would like to start with the distracting fact that on Tuesdays and Fridays, my primary school cooks something that really smells amazing for the last hour of class. Presiding Whatevers, I present Exhibit Food-1.

TB: I don’t know. Probably rice.

TB: Ah yes, I knew I’d think of it eventually. Rice, with stuff, in bowls. But it smells better on Tuesdays and Fridays.

GTA: You’ve worked with many textbooks this semester, in many different capacities – from proofreading midterms and finals, to recording new listening exams, to creating new activities for units. What was the single most amusing part of working with so many texts?

TB: I introduce Exhibit B-1 and B-2. Vitamins for success, these are not.

(TA presents the committees with worksheets and evidence)

Exhibit B-1: As you can see, he is fat.

TA: We’ve also included a body parts word search for your enjoyment.

GTA: GRAND. I love bookwork.

TB: I found the Tieng Anh series to be the most hilarious part of the semester. Honestly, the book is a joke that hasn’t been updated in at least 30 years. However, like some jokes do, it lost it’s glow and then found it again, as an anachronistic relic forced upon middle and high school students. I present two pieces of out-of-context illustrations. More can be seen here.

TB: Well, some. Many are very fit. Some are proper butterballs, but they’re very young. In this way America and Vietnam both have something in common – a wide variety of body types are present in HCMC. The book also uses the icon of a tape cassette when there’s listening exercises, even though I don’t have access to any of those kinds of materials. In fact, in my class that uses this book, there are only about 15 copies of the textbook total.

GTA: What about individual students? Did you develop any relationships with students this past year?

TB: Yes, I’ve found it inevitable. I introduce Exhibit S-1 and S-2.

Exhibit S-1: A small, weird child has drawn a picture of me. I expected to change in my travels,
but even I was surprised.

GTA: Now, who are these adorable students?

Exhibit S-2: Completing a game.

TB: Two of our favorite students from 2nd Grade. S-1 depicts a very strange one. She has drawn a picture of me.

SI: We declare this almost the cutest thing we have ever seen. Someone photoshop some kittens into this immediately!

GTA: We agree, Spanish Inquisition, kittens would make this better. But did you give full points? This portrait clearly has six eyes, six arms, antenna, and, rather less clearly, 6 or 5 legs.

TB: I gave her a full three wigglebunny marks out of three. She clearly has the Shining, as I actually do have six of everything. And it’s an invisible hydraulic lift attached to my head that shall surely be useful in my second term.

GTA: and S-2?

TB: Merely an adorable student participating in a game.

SI: And is this your only type of game?!

TB: Please, Spanish Inquisition. I have numerous games. Please see exhibits G-1 and G-2.

Exhibit G-1: Sometimes this happens.

(TA leads a cat leashed to a wagon into the room. In the wagon is a stool. On the stool is balanced a sandwich board with Exhibits G-1 and G-2 pasted on it.)

TB: This is called Something Hair Adjectives Triforce Something Something Sticky Ball Game.

GTA/SI: Ooooooo

GTA: What name!

TA: Such game!

SI: But you just had a whole nutcase of holidays. What do you do for holidays?

TB: I have so many things. Usually I play battleships with christmas trees. Please see Exhibit G-2.

Exhibit G-2. You sunk my Spruce!

SI: Insanity! Makes no sense!

TB: If a child doesn’t have to play by the rules, I don’t see why I should.

SI: This makes more sense!

TB: I also have some pictures of my environment.

SI: Tell us the truth – do you feel the need for a sweatshirt in the morning?!?

TB: Yes. 70 degrees F is now utterly freezing to my body. My internal worldview has been shattered.

GTA: But at least it’s stopped raining for now, yes? I’ve read that on this plane we are either moist or dusty.

TB: Ugh… but yes. I present Exhibits T-1, T-2, and T-3. This was the day I ruined the soles of my dress shoes for good. Holding them together with a banh mi rubber band was only a temporary fix. You should have smelled the cuffs of my pants by the time I got home through three majorly flooded areas 8 hours later.

T-1: Soon with more Terminator?

SI: We refuse to imagine! Hogwash!

TB: Exactly, Sir Inquisition. That was in November. T-2 and T-3 are from the drier months of December and January.

GTA: These both look rather pretty, I must say.

TB: I guarantee you it’s very hot. And yes, they’re pictures of my second-favorite school.

T-2: The seemingly weekly Tug-O-War in the courtyard.

SI: But how many schools do you have?!

TB: 4 at the moment.

T-3: Best class evah?? Maybe.

GTA: Let’s finish. What was the hardest thing you did this semester?

Exhibit TVO-1: Six groups of seventh graders post-nap.

TB: Well, your invisible, possibly imaginary, Authority, I have to say that the hardest thing I did was transition into a single Seventh Grade class (Exhibit TVO-1), which I only had at the very end of December and for the upcoming semester. It was quite a change from my primary schools, where I have a general game plan that I can depend on.

GTA: What challenges will this new class face?

TB: I’m going to have to figure out how to earn and keep their attention, and spend much more time preparing class plans for them. They will require a level of attention I haven’t had to give to my younger kids, who are all basically at the same-ish level – the same things work in all the younger classes. The middle school will need a different approach, however, which I’ll have to spend some time discovering.

GTA: Good analysis, Teacher Ben. We are concerned about your day. Do you get to take a nap?

TB: Naps are for sensible people. I work almost all day… sometimes I take a nap at 5pm when I get home.

GTA: But when do you have coffee?!

TB: Easy! 9:37-9:57am, every T-F, in this alley – see Exhibit C-1.

GTA: A well-balanced life is important to learning the ropes of a new culture, Teacher Ben. I’m pleased to see you have had an eventful semester. One last question: What are your goals for teaching in 2014?

TB: It was my first time abroad, and I became sick quite often. In 2014 I have three goals. First, I want to inoculate myself better against the walking germ incubators that are children – less touching, and more hand sanitizer. And
definitely more exercise – it’s so essential here.

GTA: So wise. So true. Germs. Exercise.

Exhibit C-1. No one get between me and my
mid-morning iced coffee/iced tea
and chicken sticky rice break.

TB: I also may get a higher teaching certificate – the CELTA – and receive further classroom training. I’d also like to increase my working hours to 35 hours/week by the end of the year.

GTA: It’s good to have goals, Teacher Ben. We approved heartily. Well, I’ve got to see a man about a horse, so meeting adjourned.

TB: And? How did I do today?

GTA: Congratulations, you’re a teacher. You’re a young teacher, you’ve made a lot of mistakes, and you have a long way to go before you’ll be on the level of a career professional, but I suppose it’s a good enough start. Two out of three wigglebunny marks and a “very good, keep it up,” I suppose. Meeting adjourned, teaching people.

FILED 4/2014