Wednesday, February 22, 2012

School Update

I have a lot of classes this trimester, double what I had last year in the first trimester.  I am teaching Biology, Chemistry, and a Math Review for both Primero and Segundo Bachillerato, as well as the workshops--English and theater--and Physical Education.  So, it’s a lot, but so far I’m doing well with all of it.
I really enjoy being in front of the classes teaching, but I’m finding it harder and harder to meet my own expectations with preparing beforehand.  I want to be very prepared, and to engage my students in more ways than a straight-forward lecture, so I’ve been trying to develop different methods and to switch it up.  For instance, I’ve been doing a mix of lecture, PowerPoint, activities, guided work, and of course the labs that we do every week at the farm.  However, I have never been good at continuously working on projects, usually leaving things to the last minute.  Last year and this year with teaching, I have begun to realize that it’s not just that I’m lazy, it’s a big part of my personality.  A lot of times I surprise myself while teaching because I come up with examples or ways to explain things that I can’t do while planning ahead, but when my brain has to work fast, it makes more connections.
So, I’m not sure I would be cut out to be a teacher for the rest of my life and have to prepare even more than I do now.  Like I said, I love being in the classroom, but that time is probably only about half the total time it takes to teach.
My students this year have been great, so far.  Because they knew me from last year and were more used to my teaching style than my students were in the beginning of last year, they are much more open and participate well.  They are also able to think a little more abstractly and critically, and it’s been pretty rewarding to teach them so far.  For example, I have started giving some surprise, short timed quizzes in class, something I didn’t really do last year, and they have been steadily improving and learning how to study between classes and how to take tests.  Last year I really struggled with how to improve test performance, and how to get them to manage their time, and this has so far seemed to be working out.
Outside of class, my relationship with the girls is different.  As I mentioned earlier, they are more comfortable with me.  They no longer see me as the new person/gringo, and I feel much more a part of the daily life.  This has been great with the classes, with being able to relate to them on a deeper level, and with helping out Christina and Alex, but it has also been a little tough at times.  I know I’m not going to be here next year, and it’s hard looking at some of them, who have become such important parts of my life, and realizing that I might not see them much after this.  However, the girls often don’t seem to see this, and act around me as they would for someone who is a constant in their life.  

So far, life at the Center has been pretty tranquil and very enjoyable.  Just as it did last year, the experience there with the girls has already helped me through some really difficult times.  Part of the reason I haven’t been posting regularly is that I’ve been really busy outside of school (I’ll post about that later), but also that it has been really hard for me to reflect and write recently, with some difficult experiences I have encountered.
This is kind of a general and brief update, but hopefully I will be able to get back into the rhythm of posting, and things will be more specific and informative.  Until the next time we talk, God bless you!

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