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  • Writer's picturestrykerk2

When we "Opened our House"

Hi all!

So happy to be writing this from the other side of the tunnel, you know, the side with the light.

It has been a hectic past few weeks to put it mildly. For starters, right after our student-led conferences we had a very important Writer’s Workshop visitor come. Eric came last summer to teach us the ways of Writer’s Workshop. This was his follow-up visit to see how things were going and what we need to improve on. SC has paid a lot of money to hire him and fly him all the way to Chile, so it goes without saying that this visit needed to be flawless.

Everything went great and we all learned a lot from Eric. He is such a fascinating and knowledgable individual. He actually worked in Ellington (20 minutes from my house) for a time! This time Dani and I decided to take him out to dinner to make him feel welcome. We had such a nice time!

I also attended my neighbors’ son’s 2nd birthday party. My neighbors have always been so kind to me. They help me when I lock myself out, they bring me dinner and they routinely check in on me. They were in desperate need of help for setting up the party so of course I volunteered. This past year has been very difficult for them as Miguel Ángel has been in and out of the hospital for seizures. Miguel was born with Down syndrome and has experienced many health issues. It was a nice moment to show him how loved he is.

^^ León was exhausted after

During that entire week with Eric, we were also frantically trying to prepare for our dreaded Open House. Open House is the big event of the year for first grade. Open House at SC, is not like Open House in the US. Here, we have 14 centers that each student prepares work for and shows to their parents.. Each pair rotates every 2 minutes until all the centers have been presented to their parents. This year has been even more strenuous because they decided to put student-led conferences and Open House two weeks a part.

This past week was probably one of the most stressful times I’ve experienced thus far in my professional career. Each and every one of the teachers was on edge and everyone was exhibiting their stress in different ways. There was mental breakdowns (guilty), arguing and mood swings. The first and second grade hallway was quite a hostile environment. It was not a fun time, let me tell you.

But Open House was coming at us in full force whether we were ready or not. This year we felt way underprepared in comparison to past years but everything was fine in the end. The parents were so pleased and appreciative, as always. Open House is always a nice moment where the parents can see their child in the context of the other kids. There are always some parents that need a swift reality check, and Open House definitely delivers it. It’s also an “ah-hah” moment for some, where they realize we do a lot in first grade; we aren’t coloring pictures and gluing popsicle sticks together all day long. It’s nice to finally be recognized and appreciated.

This week, a mother of one of my students (who just relocated to Chile) told me that her daughter felt more comfortable coming to first grade in Chile because I was there (because I’m American). It felt so nice to hear that my presence, not my co-workers’, or students’ presence, helped this girl. It was a clear-cut example that my being in Chile made an impact on another child’s life. That me being in Chile helped a little girl want to come to school. Teaching is filled with moments like these, but they’re rarely spelled out for you or even expressed. It was a nice confirmation that my time here in Chile has made a difference in the lives of my students.

Pics from the week:

^^ Gringo gathering

So what’s up next? Well knowing me, I don’t stop, ever. Next weekend I’m headed down to Patagonia, the extreme South of Chile and Argentina.

Luckily, it’s smooth sailing until the end of the school year from here on out, so I’ll be a much more pleasant version of myself.

Laughable Moments:

  • Dani and I were showing the kids how to present each center for Open House. Each center had a different color, which signified if we needed to speak in English or in Spanish. I pointed to the sign and asked “what color are we?” and one boy shouted out “we are white!”

  • "Anybody know what Open House is?" Very confidently, "It's when we open our house"

  • After a grueling day, I hopped on what I thought was my usual bus, only to realize I misread the number. I was so tired that I thought I’d just ride it out and see where we were headed. The bus actually took me right outside my apartment, what are the chances?

  • I became friends with a German girl who recently moved into my apartment building. She was telling me about this creepy guy who lives in the building and is always texting her. I told her how that happened to me when I first arrived with some guy who “wanted to practice English” she told me his phone number and checked in my phone and low and behold it’s the same guy!

  • During recess, one of the pipes burst creating a small pond. We had to quickly get the kids inside. One of my students asked me very seriously, “Miss, is there going to be a tsunami?”

  • One night the front desk guy stopped me and asked me to translate a strange email he received because it was in English and he didn’t understand. The email was a spam mail that told him he won $10,000.

  • While teaching the other day, I looked out into the audience of students and saw that one of my student’s nose was gushing blood. I mean Mount Vesuvius gushing. And she was just sitting there with her hands folded, listening intently. Looking back, I could have reacted in a better way, but I am not good with blood and I was shocked to see this. I gasped and screamed her name, causing all of the children to turn and look at her. Luckily, Dani handles these types of situations very well, because I am useless in the face of blood. I accidentally created hysteria and chaos.

  • At the Elmo themed birthday party, I was informed that Cookie Monster’s Spanish name is Lucas

  • One of my co-workers asked me over lunch if in the USA we name the last born child “Benjamin” too. I looked at her like she had 3 heads. She told me that sometimes (not always) families name the last born child (if it’s a boy), Benjamin. It’s like saying that’s the last one, no more!

Sending prayers and positive energy to my many friends and family in the Florida Area and also to those in the US Virgin Islands.

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