I’ve settled back into my Chilean life. School started back up on March 5th and we’re in full swing. We went from 0 to 100 REAL fast –like I think I have whiplash…
The first few months of first grade are HARD, probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. You have to have a lot of patience and balance just the right amount of authority and nurture together.
When the kids arrive, there’s a lot of crying. For the first two weeks there’s always a few that cry because they miss their moms. Coming from Kinder is a monumental change for them and when I’m at my whits' end, I try to remember this. It’s their first time having a full-day of school, first time having to sit at a desk, first time having to raise their hand before getting up etc.
What the first day of 1st grade is like:
If you’ve never experienced teaching the first weeks of first-grade, it’s hard for me to paint an accurate picture for you depicting true the reality of just how hard it is. The kids don’t know where anything is in the school, they don’t know how to put a paper in their folder, they don’t know to raise their hand before speaking, many of them start to fall asleep after lunch. To top it all off, none of them understand English. It’s chaos, pure chaos.
I will report that this year’s class understands English better than my class did last year. And my last year’s class walked away fluent in English, so we’re off to a good start. But that being said, they still only understand simple simple words. It’s impossible not to speak Spanish to them. For the first semester, it's mostly me speaking in English and they answer me in Spanish. If you start in only English, they’ll get scared and automatically tune you out. We’re slowly fading out the Spanish and moving to all English but it truly is impossible not to speak in Spanish; They don’t understand much. If there’s something important they need to know, it’s the only option at this point in the game.
This year I have a new partner and a new classroom. Since we’re both relatively new to SC, there’s a lot more pressure. I feel a lot more responsibility on my shoulders, this time it feels like it’s all on me if we sink or swim. But so far, we’re swimming along.
My class this year is pretty good but I have a strong group of boys this year. About 8 or 9 boys who are all so hyper-active. They don’t listen to anything you say, and don’t answer you when you address them. It’s out of the question for them to walk in a line. The number one phenomenon I’ve observed as a teacher in Chile is that the children in Chile cannot, CANNOT walk in a line. All of my classes, and all classes I have observed are the same. The concept of walking in a line for my boys is out of the question. It drives me mad!
^^ We gave each kid a neon sticker with a number, so we can keep track of them!
I haven’t had much time for anything else since school has started. School has consumed me. We had the Parent Meeting night where we stayed 15 hours at school. The day before school started, our classroom was BARE. Since they painted the walls over the summer, we had nothing on the walls. I haven’t had much downtime. I’ve been back in Chile for a little over two weeks and I’ve already been sick twice. When I first arrived in Chile, I brought back with me Bronchitis and both my eyes had conjunctivitis. Now, I’m fighting a cold. It’s inevitable after being thrown into an environment with so many germs after being away from it. Plus being constantly tired and stressed isn’t good for the immune system. But I’m being easy on myself and trying to have “me-time” on my weekends.
Although this post may seem negative, I truly do love my job. But I wanted to show the reality of it, rather than a sugar-coated “everything's good” post. Each day gets better with my students and we’ve already made a ton of progress. Now they’re used to our daily routine. The most rewarding part of this entire thing is to see how far these little tiny puppies come at the end of the year. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced.
^^ My neighbors got a new puppy! Now everyone in my hallway has a dog, the way it should be!
When I went to the doctor for my Bronchitis and eye-infections, she told me to put warm tea bags on my eyes. I could have sworn she said to put a potato in the warm water with the tea bags!
The day everyone goes back to school in Chile is referred to as “Super Lunes”. We have to leave very early to avoid all of the crazy traffic.
While introducing ourselves to our new class we asked if they had any questions for us such as ‘what is your favorite color?’ etc. One student raised her hand and asked “What is your favorite dress?”
When someone asks what it’s like teaching first grade, I tell them the first month is like herding 26 puppies.
One of my students told his father that the first day of school was the best day of his entire life
That same student also told his father “my teachers are so nice but they speak in so much English, all the time!”
I have one student who is a native English speaker. When I speak to Chileans in English, I adapt my pronunciation so that they can understand me more clearly. So instead of saying “Spanish” I say “E-Spanish”. My student kept raising her hand to correct my English pronunciation.
We were having a talk with the class about how they cannot leave the classroom unless they have permission and one boy raised his hand and said “unless you have to vomit!”
It’s no secret that I’m pretty strict with my students. To get this class into shape, we’ve been very strict with them. My teacher partner was joking to our co-workers at lunch, “when Kim talks in Spanish she’s scary, she roars”. Usually when I’m talking in Spanish, it’s because I’m yelling at them.
I think my native speaker student is absolutely hilarious. She showed me a “dance” she learned where she wiggles her hips like she’s hula-hooping. “People ask me where I learned to dance and I don’t know what to tell them because it’s just in my heart”
While testing the kids on their English levels I usually ask them about their families, one of my students told me her mom "sees TV and makes money".
I was showing the kids how to write in their journals and was drawing a picture and half of the class became extremely concerned that I didn’t add eyelashes to the people in my picture.
^^ When the math department celebrates Pi Day
^^ On every single display this store has, there is an English grammar mistake
My class was exceptionally bad in music class so some friends had to write apology letters:
^^ I told a student I would write what he wanted to say on a sticky note and he could copy it. He didn't understand and decided to just paste it on his original work. Translation "You are so pretty"
^^ This friend wasn't even bad in music, he just wanted to write a sorry letter...
See you soon readers!!