Keep Calm and Carry Stickers
~ By Madison
Whether I was consciously aware or not, I have realized that initially I assumed many things about living on an island. Although I have never done so in the past or even known anyone to have lived the “island life” I had a lot of ideas of what it would be like. People have always described me as calm and easy going, so I was especially excited to go to an island, as I thought the “way of life” would be slower, more relaxed and fit my personality better. In many ways it is and does, but I would attribute that to the island being more of a vacation destination rather than simply being surrounded by water. In my short three months of working and living on Isla Mujeres I have found that, obviously, it is not a prerequisite to be a mellow person to live on the island and that the “chill” vibe is not always beneficial.
Teaching English in an elementary school has most definitely been a learning process for me, specifically the methods of reprimanding the students. Initially I was very nervous to discipline the classes, but the kids quickly caught on and tried to play and get away with things they wouldn’t if their teacher had been in the room. I began with pretty empty threats of writing their names on the board and saying they would have to leave the class if they didn’t stop, but I never really made anyone leave. More recently, students have become aware that their name written on the board didn’t amount to much and I have come to realize that utilizing the teachers of the school is monumentally helpful. First, I began by writing a list of a few students who were poorly behaved and giving it directly to the teacher upon their return to the class. Each teacher has a different manner of reprimanding their students, and this way I wasn’t too harsh or too lenient on anyone, as the teacher decided the proper course of action instead. Talking with the teachers about rough days or particular students causing distractions has helped me not only maintain more control over the classroom, but also makes me feel more comfortable as a guest within the school.
My methods of teaching are ever-changing as I learn what works best for which ages and behavior-types, and I feel that these minor changes are steadily improving my lessons and the students’ knowledge of English. I know that I could be harsher in my classroom management, but I feel that positive reinforcement is even more effective with young children. Stickers have become like gold and the possibility of going outside at the end of class, or getting a selfie has the power to silence a room. The rewards have helped me to get to know my students more and have (I think) made them realize that I want to have fun and hang out as well. Each day I grow more attached to the kids and am already nervous about the end of June when I must say goodbye.