Thursday, January 19, 2012

A new semester of new adventures

Hello again!

We just finished our seventh day of second semester after a much needed break from teacher life! There are some changes this half that I should let you know about. I will now be teaching English in Kindergarten in Mrs. Velazquez’s class, and I will also continue teaching Health to eighth grade. Sarah will now be teaching eighth grade History class, as well as the other section of Kindergarten (Mrs Lopez’s class). Before break we decided to make this switch in order to keep us both refreshed; it will also allow us both to gain teaching experience with more than one age group and distribute the workload of eighth grade and kindergarten evenly. 

When I started teaching in Kindergarten the first day, it didn’t even seem to faze the students. It’s quite comical how adjustable they are - they could care less about who is in front teaching them, it’s all about the clothes the teacher is wearing and how her hair looks that day. I even had one student who sits in the back call Ms. Sarah over during class and ask why I had a skin-colored Band-Aid on my ring finger. They can be extremely observant of the most bizarre things.

It’s been seven days, but already I feel that I am becoming better organized and prepared to interact with parents. In eighth grade I made it the responsibility of the students to keep track of missing assignments and grades, but with Kindergarten I have to keep track of everything X 23! I’ve quickly figured out that being organized doesn’t only mean keeping track of missing assignments, it’s about planning ahead and communication! On Tuesday, I had all the students put a homework packet in their folders (due Friday), and since they had their folders out, I also gave them a practice packet of numbers that I was planning on working on in-class later in the week. On Wednesday, I happened to look in about five of the students’ folders and saw that not only did they complete the homework packet, but they completed the entire in-class packet as well!! I felt kind of bad that they did so much work for English as homework, but more than that I was annoyed at the thought of how much time I spent putting that packet together for class and the thought of putting together something else. Thinking ahead and communication…

As for eighth grade Health class, it’s off to a really great start. We are about to get into some really exciting topics – it will be very interesting to be on the other end of things this time around. I feel good about how Health is going though, because I already had a semester to figure out what works with those students, and what doesn’t. It was really great to see them after a break, and they seemed excited about the semester I have planned as well! The project I am most excited about is one in which Sarah, the eighth graders, and I will be working on together. Sarah and I started the ball rolling on the recycling program, but we are determined to get it off the ground before the end of the year! We have big plans to put the eighth graders in charge of the project by dividing them into committees in order to make a video about the importance of recycling, write letters and be in contact with important associates such as Waste Management and the San Benito administration, and track our needs and progress through social media and other modes of communication. Not only is it important that we respect the health of our earth and all the life it supports, but we want these eighth graders to understand how they are apart of history and to be proud of something they can leave behind at this school. Hopefully this project will be one way in which they can find value in some of the lessons they learn in school – that everything is related and what they learn doesn’t stop at 2:45 when the bell rings. On Friday I had three students stay after class to discuss ideas they already had about the recycling video. It made me so happy that they are excited about it, which really made me feel like a teacher!!

This is out of order here, but I wanted to mention that we returned just in time to celebrate Three Kings Day in Puerto Rico. It’s a much bigger deal here than Christmas! We drove with Ivonne, Cesar, and S. Mary Ruth to a town outside of Ponce on Friday, and we met S. Carmen, S. Myriam, S. Lois (from MN), and S. Renee (from MN). That day we watched a very extensive parade that ended with the Three Kings. By the time the Kings reached us, I understood why the parade took so long – everybody along the parade route wants to have a picture with each of the Kings, and a picture of their children with the Kings, and a picture of their grandparents with the Kings… I think you get the idea. By the end, there was no boundary between the parade participants and the parade viewers. And yes, Sarah and I got a picture with one of the Kings, and so did about 15 other parade fanatics. Ivonne insisted that we get our picture taken, and I think the crowd around us found it pretty amusing. After the parade we attended an outdoor mass, ate pinchos (skewers), and shopped in the street market… for a long time. It started down pouring, so we took shelter under the market tents. We spent about an hour looking at woodworking. I was starting to feel bad that I wasn’t making any purchases, and then Ivonne led the way to another tent where we spent the next half an hour standing by the coffee vendor. I was also forced into buying a homemade Vicks cream. Eventually we decided the rain was not going to go away and we made a dash for the van and headed back to the hotel.
The next day Sarah and I rested off our jet lag by the pool.

The first of the three Kings

Waiting for the rain to pass! Ivonne rocking the plastic bag rain hat!

On Sunday, we toured Ponce, which is the town S. Myriam is from. It was very beautiful – we saw the church, the first fire station ever built in Puerto Rico, a castle, and we went to the top of a big cross that was used as a look out post to the ocean at one point. Now it provides a beautiful view of the ocean and nice gardens to walk around in. 

Group shot in Ponce

In the fire station

Cross lookout

If you are reading this from Minnesota, I hope you staying warm – there is plenty of it to share in Puerto Rico!!

Hasta pronto,

1 comment:

  1. Jana, you sound like a real teacher here, as though the daily lessons of beginning teachers are making an impact with you. How are you feeling about teaching? Is there a future for you?