Thursday, July 2, 2015

My First Week of Service Learning

I'm already nearly done with the first week of my Service Learning portion of the program. I'm working at a private school in the area. At the beginning of my program, I was told that I would serve as a teacher's aid, conversation partner, and that I would most likely drift around assisting various classrooms...well, that isn't exactly the case. When I arrived my first day, the teacher said "Alright. What do you have prepared for the next two hours because you're going to teach." I stood there for a second until I improvised something. After the first day, I was exhausted. No one ever said teaching children was so difficult! I thought to myself, How am I going to do this for a whole month? 

I have to teach multiple grade levels and arrange lessons for each of them because the primary school teachers don't speak English even though they're expected to teach it. Most days I teach for 4 hours, but today I taught for 6 straight hours. My back was killing me and I felt exhausted. Some days, thankfully, I get to help with secondary. There is an English teacher for secondary, so not all the pressure is on me. 

I went to the Service Learning meeting today with the volunteers, and almost all of them said they had so much free time that they had to look for things to do. It seems like my placement is the most difficult. I am not complaining, though, because I will be an expert by the time the end of the month approaches! 

Today was the hardest yet. Mostly because of the fifth graders who were noisy, mean to each other, and didn't take me seriously at all. It didn't help that their teacher left the room for most of the class or sat at her desk not helping with classroom management when I really needed it. The rest of the time, the children were sweet. They come up to me to tell me hello and give me kisses on the cheek. Sometimes, they try to share their snacks with me. Some little fourth grade girls gave me a bracelet they made today.

Oh, and I used a squat toilet for the first time at the school. It was interesting, to say the least. 

Overall, I think the most challenging part about working at the school will be classroom management.  For the most part, the students are fine. That fifth grade class might be the death of me though. I need to find a way to command more respect from them. Since being a disciplinarian is not in my nature and since my discipline vocabulary in Spanish is limited, this is going to be a challenge. Next is planning. It's difficult to know where the students are and what they need, but there are plenty of resources available for me to use. I realized that it takes very special people to work with younger children on a daily basis because when they're good, they're so sweet, but when they're bad, it's incredibly frustrating. 

Monday is Teacher's Appreciation Day, a school holiday, so I think I'm going to take some time to appreciate myself after a hard first week...


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