Start of Classes and All that Jazz
~ By Maggie
Month 2/6 down…it is crazy how time flies! We started out this month with vacation time between summer camp and the start of school. One of the coolest parts of our vacation was visiting the ancient Mayan ruin site, Ek Balam, where we climbed the pyramids and swam in an underground lake. We got some much appreciated rest, quality time on the beach with lots of sunsets, and prep time for the first day of school! When the end of August came, I was more than ready to have a solid routine again, not to mention meet the kids and start English classes!
We have now made it through two whole weeks (praise!), and I’m getting used to the intimidating concept of having 24 classes a week with over 400 students and lesson planning/preparing materials for all of those classes. One of the things I noticed right off the bat was that all of the public schools require uniforms for the students, which is kind of a nice thing because students do not have to worry about “looking cool” and having cute clothes. I was also STOKED when I found out the teachers can get “uniform” polos with the school and state emblem and your name in a different color for every day!!! The second thing that really struck me was the outpouring of affection and love from all the students…I felt like a total celebrity! Not only are they super pumped about english and want to impress me with what they know/learn, but they want to share their stickers and candies and food with me and write/draw me little love notes…it is incredibly heartwarming and sweet! They also love hearing about my life in the states…where I live, if I am married with kids (lol), if I have pets, anything and everything they want to know!
The teachers at my school are great, and have really made an effort to help me in the classrooms and include me in their community…they even offered to invite me over next time they all hang out (yay! friends!!). It is incredibly clear that they care a lot about the students. They want the best for them and work really hard; some teachers even teach at two schools- mine in the morning and one of the other public schools in the afternoon.
This month has been a HUGE learning curve and I am still learning the best methods for teaching and managing different grades, different classes, and different lessons. I learn something new, overcome some sort of challenge, have to think creatively on my feet, and fall more in love with this island and the students everyday, and I am ecstatic to keep moving forward to see the impact this experience has both on me and the kids!