Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Today, for some reason, was mentally exhausting.  I don't even have any real classes on Monday, just one phys ed class with the youngest grade, and a radio session with my seniors (although today I taught about meiosis instead of playing a radio program).  

Maybe it has something to do with Spanish being more of an effort after having two easier days, or maybe it’s just because there is a lot of technical prep work we need to do to get everything ready for the following week, to catalog and organize the students’ contributions, and to get them situated.  At dinner, I was thinking about how there are very few boundaries between us and the students.  We are there for at least 12 hours each day, which means that the students and I see each other when we’re tired in the morning, when we’re hungry in the afternoon, and very tired again come dinner time.  Honestly, today at dinner I had a difficult time keeping it together and putting a brave face on things--all I wanted to do was put my head on the table and sleep.  As I said, however, the students are always there, and we always need to be on the ball.
After dinner and a meeting with Manuel about the labs tomorrow, I was leaving the building when I heard my name being yelled and one of my students came running after me.  While she was asking me a few questions about the lab tomorrow and the report that’s due tomorrow, and I was copying tomorrow’s lab handouts for her, another student came up and started asking the same questions.  I didn’t understand them much at first because my brain was so tired and they just couldn’t slow down enough, but I told them to gather the other students and meet in our classroom to go over everything.  
So, at 7 pm, I started going over the lab report, parts of experiments (again) and answered specific questions they had.  I know that a lot of their confusion was because I was not able to explain myself very well last week, but also I’m pretty sure that they have never had to do anything like this before.  I really didn’t mind staying late to go over information with them, because it made me very happy that they were thinking about it and asking questions in the first place.  It has been a struggle to get them to participate and to ask for help, so I felt like this was huge progress.  
I really was very happy that they came to me for help and that they are putting in the effort and thinking about what needs to be done.  I think that it bodes well for the future and for their further learning.  Skills like writing and presenting results/conclusions are very important, and hopefully my plans will help them obtain or improve these skills.  Also, as a side note, it also made me happy when one of my students asked me if I was sad because she could tell that something was off.  Although, again with the borders thing.  It’s weird being around them so much that if I start to crash at night it is hard to conceal and they notice it.  For sure, it is quite a different experience and relationship than the student-teacher relationship in the US school systems.


  1. Matt!

    I just got up to date on your life and read your whole blog and Wow. Amazing. First, keep up the good work at school. 12 hour days are tough, but the breakthroughs with students are what make it worth it. Secondly, I give you props for teaching science in Spanish. I wouldn't know where to begin for vocab, and you are doing this along with improving your general conversation in the language. Ha, pretty soon you will be better than me. Let me know any cool words or saying that your students say so that I can teach my students. I also LOLed at the blue-eyed gringo comment a couple posts back. You are without a doubt gaining "perspective" and changing your student's lives. keep up the good work. te extraño mucho.

  2. Haha thanks Alicia! Fortunately they have a text book...except not really, I find myself looking up a lot of stuff while preparing lesson plans.
    One of the funny things they say is "Cheque leque pancake" (pronounced pancakay). I don't know if that's spelled right, but they use it for just about everything, from A-OK to "I'm full." They also say "Ya," "bastante," and "blandita" for everything.
    I miss you too! You should come visit during your summer vacation.

  3. Hi Matthew! Just thought you'd like to know I'm r
    ding this with grandma. I'm not sure she can grasp how remarkable this all is. Thanks for staying in touch.

  4. Great! I'm glad someone is able to share it with her.