Tuesday, May 02, 2006

First Day of School

La Escuela
In the morning at the Spanish school, I got orientation and then Gustavo, the director, and I went to the school where I will be teaching. I met my 2 classes of 5th and 6th grade girls who are currently being taught by Samantha. She is leaving this weekend and I will be taking over where she left off. This is a bit frustrating for me because Norina and I did a lot of work to begin planning lessons for classes with no prior English. Basically, I can review everything she has already taught them or I can start all over again with my lesson planning. Grrrr!

But OH! these girls are absolutely adorable. They are so happy to welcome someone new into their class and were so sad when Samantha reminded them that it was her last week of teaching English there. Their big brown eyes and their smiles are captivating. After an hour of class the girls have an hour-long break and then we move to the next class. Samantha says that the reason why they have an hour break is because they are so poor and that they probably leave home with out eating breakfast. It's hard to imagine- these beautiful young niñas in their navy blue uniforms. The first class, 6th grade, is well-behaved and mostly attentive. Most stay in their seats and few talked when Samantha was teaching.

The 2nd class of 5th graders was a lot more affectionate. They all came over and said, "Good morning!" (in English!!) and kissed us on our cheeks when we entered the classroom. They didn't even care who I was. This class reminds me of when I taught architecture to that class of 3rd graders in St. Johns a couple years ago- it seemed like they all had so much love to give and nobody to give it to. All their families had issues- their mom was in jail or their dad was a meth addict. They immediately attached themselves to anyone who was willing to give them attention. It is sweet, but it breaks my heart.

This second class was also less attentive and more unruly. About half of the students were never in their seats and by the end of the class a bunch of the girls were ignoring Samantha. They were huddled around me asking me questions and having me draw pictures of animals. I didn't know what to do- I hated to distract them from the lesson, but they were so fascinated by the new person that I decided to make the best of it and try to teach them something.

It was also my first day of Español! Thank goodness. Finally I can start to feel like I may be able to communicate with people. My afternoon instructor's name is Marta. I am so grateful that she is so patient. I had so many questions and I feel like we treaded a lot of water today....but I'm sure it will get better.

The Spanish school is so fabulous. The school entrance is a bar (!!) and the hallways are covered tile patios with offices off of the patio. There is free internet, coffee, tea and water. There is also a "living room" with furniture, TV and VCR. Some afternoons they offer movies in español.

The best part though is the classrooms. They are situated around a pool (also free to students!) They are little hut-type things that have bamboo full height between the "classrooms" and a half-wall facing the pool/courtyard. They are covered with corrugated metal roofing. The courtyard is full of all kinds of trees and vegetation including an orange tree that has a few fruits almost ready to be picked. There are birds of paradise!! IN THE GROUND!!! It was sunny and warm and the courtyard was gleaming. Around 4pm it got cloudy and it started to pour. It was so great to be getting spanish lessons so close to this paradise. Rain or shine, I don't care. This is the best classroom I have ever been in!


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