This week marks the end of our fourth week here with Kalu Yala. It is our third week in San Miguel and our first week in the school of San Miguel. Blair, Myra, Mimi and I taught Kindergarten, 1-3rd grade, and 4-6th grade Wednesday and Thursday. Normally we will be teaching Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We are each in charge of the lesson plan and leading of one class. Blair has Kinder, Myra has 1st-3rd and I have 4th-6th. Below is our schedule. We all attended every class and helped the leading teacher. This week Mimi, our director, aided us by introducing the classes and some activities.
1st, 2nd, 3rd grade 9:00-10:00am
4th, 5th, 6th grade 11:00-12:00
We woke up at 6:00am both Wednesday and Thursday and headed to school around 7:00am. I didn’t realize how much I had missed waking up at 6:00am to head to a school; I haven’t done it in four years. There’s something special and beautiful about it, waking up as close as possible to when the sun does. It’s especially overwhelmingly gorgeous when you happen to open eyes and ears to the reality that is a small humble town near a river, surrounded by green.
This week was the first time I have ever taught English, and as a Foreign Language. In preparation I spent mad hours crafting a lesson plan for the first week. I detailed every activity I would go through and made copies of the worksheets I would hand out. I wanted to document my plan thoroughly so that the next group of interns that come through will have something concrete and self-explanatory to study before they begin to make their lesson plans and enter the school.
We, as this semester’s interns in Education, felt we could have greatly benefitted from having more detailed past lesson plans. We struggled to understand where to start our lessons. This is why I think having an all-encompassing framework for what (and how) we teach in the school(s) would be brilliant. We would be able to better build bases for students so that when they graduate to the next level of EFL they can continue to build on what they know. A struggle when beginning EFL/ESL with an entire school is that you will most likely be starting various grades out at the same level. This makes it difficult to have something that focuses on teaching specific material to each level.
Things in theory and things in action/practice are always different. This is PRAXIS, however and should exist more often. The planning, then acting, and then critical reflecting afterwards begins the cycle. It is continued by the critical reflection’s impact on the planning/action itself. It is continuous, like dialogue and relationships and real change.
This week in the classroom, where I worked with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, I learned a lot, about lesson plans and young people and myself. Even though I am still a young person and it feels like yesterday that I was the age of a 6th grader, I am learning what it means to be in a classroom as the designated educator. We only got through half of what I had planned for the first day and at the end of it all, back in our home, I found myself frustrated. Not because the action/practice was different than the theory, but because I realized how much I care about community around me. This work, this Education Internship, this Community Outreach, this EFL stuff we do is daunting. You can make it simple, and painless, and stay uninvested. But, if you ever feel frustrated for an unselfish reason you probably care.
How could this be frustrating? I will put it how I know best. We, interns, enter a community from which we are not. We stay for a period of time, make relationships, do programming, and learn what we can but, eventually we leave. Record our experience on a resume. This is the first thing. In relation to the classroom, we’re teaching English, gaining confianza in a teacher-student kind of way, working towards a goal that really has an expiration date because eventually, we leave. And while I know some interns stay and become directors, I am specifically talking about those who don’t, which is many, because that is the reality for some folks. It can feel frustrating; knowing that people come and go, with the privilege to do so. It can feel frustrating; building relationships on a timeline, not knowing who will be next in your place with the same privilege. It can be frustrating thinking you might not make any real impact and that even if you do, this was just an internship, or a resume builder, or a study abroad experience; a foreigner seeking cultural exchange.
There’s a difference between intention and impact. But more than that, there’s a difference between one who understands their intentions and one who does not.
Until next time.