Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Second day, new classes

Tuesday, 3-22-11

My second day of school also went pretty well. Four of my five classes today were new because I have ten different classes in total. My tenth class, the teacher’s class, which will be held on Fridays, should be very interesting. I’m excited to teach the teachers but also a little nervous as well. Since most of my classes today were new, most of the curriculum that I worked on was the same as yesterday. Plus there’s a lot of repetition. I’m going to try to find new ways to repeat the information so it doesn’t get too boring.

My first class of the day was fifth grade section A. The teacher of the class is Maria Roxana who I worked with last year. She began class today with a prayer. She asked me if it was okay with me that she said a prayer before class with the kids. I didn’t mind. The school isn’t affiliated with any religion, but I do know that a few of the teachers pray before class with their students. One of the teachers I worked with last year also prayed before school with her students. Prayer in school doesn’t seem to be an issue here.

My second class was 5th grade section B with Milagro who I worked with last year. It’s a different Milagro than the one who teaches 2nd grade. Toward the end of this class the kids got their food for the day. Each day the kids get a small meal in the middle of the class day. Not sure if I mentioned before, but kids in El Salvador only go to school a half day here. So in the mornings they usually get food around 10am. The food is provided to the school free by the government. For some reason, a lot of the food they serve is rice based. Rice is another staple in El Salvador but not many people in this area grow it. The teacher asked me if I liked tortillas and bean. Of course! She left and came back with a huge bowl of beans and two rice tortillas. I was hungry and the food looked great, but there was a lot of it. People like to give visitors and guests a lot of food here. And it’s an honor to receive so much food. So I ate it all (though I wasn’t very hungry for lunch later on).

My next two classes were sixth grade. Section A was with Abigail and section B was with Irma. I worked with both of them last year and was excited to see them again. Both of them had taught 5th grade last year; the same group of kids. So it was fun to see some of my old students again. They both stressed that this year the English classes were especially important because 7th grade is when kids start learning English in school as required by the government. As I mentioned before, I haven’t heard the greatest things about the English classes here, and it’s the people who live here that told me that. My last class was 1st grade, which was the same one I had yesterday. So most of my classes will meet every other day with one exception every day.

I’m much better adjusted this year as opposed to last year concerning the learning style and other differences between schools here and schools in the US. For example, inside the classroom the kids are more rambunctious and there is more chitter chatter than you’d see in the US. The kids move more in their seats, sometimes out of their seats. From time to time someone might get up and leave to go get something. It’s a different structure.

One thing that’s different is kids in the same grade may or may not be the same age. The reason is not all kids start kindergarten at the same time. Or they may start school one year and have to stop for a year. If their family can’t afford to send them to school one year or if their family needs them to stay at home and help out they may not go to school. This can make 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 will do my best to encourage them every chance I get.

One difference easy to explain is how they act between classes. There is a lot of horseplay and roughhousing with each other. I’m talking some serious physical interaction. Stuff that would get you kicked out of school in the states. 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. On 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.

The rest of the day was pretty low key and mostly spent on the computer. I’m getting caught up on things, slowly but surely. Once I’m caught up I have several things I’d like to work on for school. I did manage to get some laundry done which was good because I managed to get avocado all over my skirt yesterday. Lovely. But it was a delicious avocado. I also went out and bought some candy for the kids for my birthday. Tomorrow I’m going to plan out some fun activities for us. It should be exciting!

5th grade section A

5th grade section A again

5th grade section B

5th grade section B again

6th grade section A

Another 6th grade section A photo

6th grade section B

Another 6th grade section B photo

My 1st grade class (same as yesterday)

They are one of two 1st grade classes
The other is in the afternoon

Pretty cute

1 comment:

Matt said...

I'm excited to hear about the English class for the teachers. That should be really interesting. It's great that all the teachers and students were glad to see you and are supportive of your being there. You are really doing a great thing.