Thursday, February 18, 2010

New day, new class schedule

Because they don’t want to make teaching too easy for me, the teachers got together and changed three of my class times. Nothing too major, but just enough make me think there will never be a set schedule (and after all that hard color-coding work). I’ll continue to go with the flow. However, most of the teachers have put signs up in their classroom with the days I’ll be teaching English so my schedule shouldn’t change again.

All my classes went well today after figuring out where I needed to be and when. We did more review, worked on some greetings, and talked about the importance of enunciating the end of words (sometimes they tend to drop the letter at the end of words here). I’m really starting to enjoy my classes now and am looking forward to teaching new topics. The kids are the best part of my day. They’re always greeting me and saying goodbye when I leave. I hear them saying my name when I walk to and from school. I’ve been having a lot of fun time getting to know each class.

There are several things I’ve noticed that are different in classes here in El Salvador as compared to in the US. One thing that’s different is kids in the same grade may or may not be the same age; the reason being not all kids start kindergarten at the same time. My 3rd and 4th grade classes seem about the same age, but there is a wider range of ages in my 5th, 6th, and 7th grade classes. At last one kid in my 6th grade class that is taller than me. I’m not great with ages but there seems to be a pretty broad difference in ages. This makes it a little harder to teach. Even though they’re all at the same level in school, they are different in maturity. I don’t want to talk to the older kids as if they were small children, but I also want to connect with the younger kids. It’s a balancing act.

Another thing that’s different is after the kids have done something well they’ll often applaud for themselves. I think this is an excellent idea! I believe this kind of positive reinforcement can make all the difference in the classroom. If we can focus on encouraging kids when they do well instead of only giving them attention when they’re bad, learning is much easier and more fun for all involved. I do my best to encourage them every chance I get.

As I said before, the kids here are much more rambunctious at school than kids in the US and with high energy levels. I’ve seen them running and jumping off things, playfully hitting each other, and pinning each other to the ground. A few kids have gotten hurt but nothing too major thus far. Once class starts the teachers expect them to be paying attention. I’m sure not if the running around in between classes is a good or bad idea. Maybe it’s both. On one hand it lets kids blow off some energy so they won’t be moving around constantly in class. One the other hand it could get them riled up so they can’t settle down once class starts. I do like that there is a ten minute break between classes. This gives the kids and the teachers a chance to take a break and rest their brains for ten minutes. I’ve read several studies that emphasize the importance of taking a 10 minute break every hour in order to digest what you’ve learned and reboot. Quality over quantity.

I’ve been very surprised at how exhausted I am after class. I’m a fairly high energy person that usually likes to go and go and go and go. I tend to fill my day with as much as I can because I love new experiences and exploring. Nevertheless, I come home for lunch after teaching and I’m ready for a nap. I tried my hardest not to fall asleep today after my 7th grade class (I succeeded by the way). I think it’s a combination of not getting as much sleep as I should, being around tons of children who all want my attention, and constantly translating in my head what I want to say in English. This is the most time I’ve spent speaking only Spanish. It has been wonderful and I’m soaking up as much information as I can, but it’s also quite tiring.

I love sitting around at the dining room table at the house in the afternoons. I’ve discovered that pan dulce time at 4pm is the most relaxing part of the day. The pan dulce (sweet bread) is delivered fresh to the house at the same time each day. All the ladies get some coffee, some pan dulce, and sit around the table chatting. What a wonderful tradition! I think pan dulce time needs to be incorporated into the American lifestyle. I had my fair share of pan dulce today and perhaps went a little overboard. My excuse is that there was more of a variety today and I wanted to try each kind. I will probably need to try them all again just in case.

Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, love more, and all good things will be yours.
Swedish Proverb

A bug at the Casa. I named him Guido.

After walking up the big hill to school

There's the school!

Walking home from school

A window in Berlín

Pharmacy of the Perpetual Scorpion!!!! (not really)

I love this entryway

Puppy friend!!

I've never been able to see the valley this clearly

There's the house on the right

I surprised Cecelia while she was going through the beans

My beautiful design on the pizza before Kathy uglified it (her words, not mine)


Matt said...

It sounds like you are doing great and everything is going really well! I'm so glad that you are enjoying teaching and being with the kids. Your Spanish must be improving rapidly as well. The scenery looks beautiful and the little puppy is pretty cute.

Krystal said...

awww, a puppy friend like Toby!