1. Motivate your students. Many of them don't see into the future. They don't understand that they can affect the future of this island. They have been handed money by the US for far too long. Even some of the adults feel that when the US ends the compact in the year 2000 that someone else will step in to help out the F.S.M. If the students can be made to see that an education is important to their countries well being then their grades will sore. None of the students are dumb, some just don't have the determination.
2. One way to motivate your students is to show them that you care about them and not just their grades. This is easily accomplished by spending time doing fun things away from school. Go rollerblading, swimming, hike to waterfalls, etc. A friend in the classroom is a blessing.
3. Spend weekends at local's houses. This is a great way to get to know the culture and it provides you with an escape from the stress of the other SMs and school.
4. Learn the culture and the language. The islands are forgiving if you make a mistake and they love telling you about their island. When ever I spent time to try learning a new word, the students patiently taught me. When ever I tried to learn a new word, I would end up laughing at my attempts. This brought the students closer to me, plus it makes them a little more careful what they say in their native language around you because you understand what they are saying.
5. Don't date. Even though it is a rule that we can't you will find that once you are on island they don't do much to stop you. The reason for not wanting SMs to date is rather simple: it takes time away from what you would or should be doing, it is hard to keep it low key (what we think is secretive the locals see is being blatant), and when you break up dividing lines can form among the staff. Remember we came out to serve, NOT to be served.
6. If you are rooming with someone, pooling your money and together buying food and other necessities such as toilet paper will save you money. Four of us had similar eating habits and we were able to save more than half our paycheck for ourselves. The rest went into the pot. Candy and treats we bought individually.
7. Don't eat before going to a locals house. They will offer you food and will be offended if you don't eat anything. They are accepting if you are a vegetarian and won't eat the fish but you had better have a sandwich or something.
8. Send time with God... alone.
9. Walk around town occasionally. It not only saves on the ware and tare of a vehicle and keeps you healthy, it also lets you see more the island life. Often times I would be invited into people's houses.
10. Keep your opinions about the administration to your self and them. Don't go to other staff and talk about Mr. So and So. This will only break down the unity between staff and the administration.
11. Encourage the administration to come into your classroom and critique your performance. They have taught more years than you have and know things that can improve your teaching. Don't be scarred. They won't fire you.
12. Keep a journal, maybe not everyday but at least several times a week. This way you won't forget what happened in the future. This is a year to remember, even the times when you made mistakes. You grow from mistakes not successes.
13. School doesn't have to be stressful all the time. Get at least 1 grader ( the more the better). Praise them for their good work and have fun with them. The more special you make them feel the better they will perform. Caution, don't let them think that they can run all over you.