I started my job orientation today. It was an interesting experience, and I'm not sure what this year will be like in terms of work, but I feel optimistic but also a little bit cautious.
From the teachers who have taught at this university last year, it sounds like the students are very interesting, which is a polite term for crazy, unruly and spoiled. But I think the staff will be really great to work with and after previous teaching experiences I've had, I'm not too worried.
I gained another small glimpse into Turkish culture today at orientation. The man who was giving the morning presentations, one of our assistant directors for the English program, was a former army man, and as is the other assistant director. They were really lovely and helpful in talking about Turkish culture and how our future students might respond to certain things.
For one thing, they talked about ways to help students save face in the classroom while implementing classroom discipline. They said that if you are openly critical, Turkish students can be easily offended and become confrontational. So it is best to deal with issues privately so that students don't have to try and prove anything in front of their peers. Also, Turks are very proud of their culture and language and don't like to be told they can't use Turkish in their class, especially by a foreign teacher. However, it seems that if you show an interest in Turkish culture and language, students will really warm to that, and it will really help with creating positive rapport.
Overall, I am really optimistic about this year, but at the same time, I feel that I'm pretty realistic in my expectations. My main goals are to become a better teacher, to enjoy interacting with at least some of my students, and to learn as much about Turkish culture and language as I can. So, tomorrow is day two of orientation. We'll see how it goes.