Today, after a week in limbo- unsure of the grades and subjects we were teaching- classes finally began. I headed out my front door and arrived at my classroom approximately 30 seconds later. As expected, the classroom was locked. I soon found out that the locks had been changed Friday and that the principal held all of the keys. I sat on the stoop outside of my classroom with a number of my 9th grade students for all of first period and part of second period. By now, I've learned to expect such delays so I took the time to read.
At the start of second period, the principal arrived on the final bus with the remainder of the students. After a brief assembly, I held about 10 minutes of second period and about 20 minutes of third period. Despite the fact that I taught for about a half hour, I was exhausted and feeling somewhat in despair. Other than students chattering to each other in Marshallese, all of my classes were silent. Nobody would so much as nod their head to the questions I asked and everyone silently refused to participate in the simple icebreaker activity I had planned. For my final class period, I held class for a bit over 30 minutes which felt like an eternity. Most of the students stared at me as if they had no idea what I was talking about, which they may not have. This is exactly what has been creating my confusion and elevating my stress- not knowing if the students do not understand what I am saying, whether they don't like my activities and don't want to participate or whether they are just shy because they are new to the school. I'm guessing and hoping that the explanation is the latter. Also hoping that tomorrow and the following days get easier as I get used to teaching, establish a routine, get to know my students and their abilities and as they become more comfortable in the classroom and with me.