Hello friends! Well, it's official: school has started and I'm now an English teacher for 4 and 5 yr olds. These past couple of weeks have been filled with preparations for the start of the school season and I feel somewhat consumed with it. We had a time of training and classroom prep last week. They were full days of learning about reading in Spanish, cutting, crafting & creating things for our classrooms and preparing our plans for the coming year. Guess what?! I don't really have a curriculum to work with! All I have is the experience, notes and craft ideas of my roommate Dawn (who taught the kindergartners last year), the information of what the Spanish kindergarten teacher was going to teach, a couple of kindergarten books that aren't totally applicable and the vast resources of the internet. In any case, my general plan of attack is worked out and I just need to keep filling in the details!
So whether I really felt ready for it or not, school started on Monday! Our first day in kindergarten we kept the 4 & 5 yr old classes together. We took a tour, danced around, had a long recess break and celebrated birthdays. Despite our plan to keep them together, we had to divide for a little bit and I did some stuff in my classroom that I had prepared for the next day (teaching them "hello" and coloring). We had several weeping children but they seemed content by the end of the day. I suppose that's to be expected in the life of kindergarteners. In all there are about 25 students in the kindergarten (inicial) classes with about 12 in each class.
Tuesday was my first time with the normal schedule. It was a hard morning because I had the 4 yr old first for a 1.5 hr class. Well, they didn't want to do anything that I had planned and I felt pretty pathetic as a teacher. Okay, so I was prepared for it to be hard but I think that was just a fuzzy concept in my head! Thankfully I have an aide who is excellent with the kids and is pretty good at being a policeforce. I was upset about that class but I know that I need to give myself grace to learn and grow in this whole teaching thing. In the afternoon I had the 5 yr olds for a 45 minute class which went so much better. They responded to the song I wanted to teach, they repeated after me and in general were much more responsive. The funny thing that happened is that they were supposed to have a music class after my English class but there was no teacher! I had to do an impromptu music class and I was eternally grateful for Music Together. We clapped our hands and danced around to several songs and did several rounds of Ring Around the Rosey. They all had so much fun but we still had 20 minutes until the end of the day! So, I did what comes naturally: I did a silly dance for them to one of the songs we had just danced together to. It was a blast mainly because I was entertaining them and not trying to get them to do something I wanted them to do!! I don't think they'll ever forget my silly dance. Then we played with puzzles and "read" books until it was time to go.
Today went much better altogether! I had the 5s first for an 1.5 hour and we learned the words: table, chair, floor and door. This learning involved a puppet skit (with my sock turn into parrot puppet), a game with touching and saying the objects in the room, a coloring sheet with coloring each object (with the fives I could actually ask them "Donde esta la chair?" -where is the chair? and most of them could locate it on the picture we were coloring...the fours needed a bit more obvious coaching), and sticking peices of paper with the word and a picture to the objects. With the four year old class it was more a case of getting them to answer by raising their hands and staying in their seats (which I think was even more important than even learning the English words). By the end of the day, I felt like we actually accomplished something! I don't know if they will remember all the words tomorrow but it's okay because I'll be using those words in the classroom all the time anyway.
Thus begins my new "career"! I have lots to learn for sure but it's good to be a place where God will grow me and even give me the strength to do something that I can't do in my own strength, talent or experience. I've been reading a little book by Mel & Henry Blackaby entitled "What's so spiritual about your gifts?" where they talk about how God gifts those He calls and that the important thing is to be obedient. Just think about how God's Spirit worked through a rough group of fishermen! It's amazing because it's about what God's spirit can do through a person and not about their particular abilities or talents. God has given me talents and abilities and He has used them but it's always been a struggle with pride for me and thinking I can do things on my own! (ugh!) It's good to be in a place where I need to depend on Him to help me instead of depending on myself. My prayer most of all it's too be a spiritual influence in these kids lives! I accepted Christ when I was four and it was a very vivid time in my life! I praise God for my parents and teachers who were examples and pointed me to Christ and I pray that God will work through me in such a way to touch these young lives.
Here's some pics of our prep week:
Wendy, the Spanish kindergartner teacher
My room now!
The View Around the School
(No comment about how I feel about the design of this sign)