Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Did anyone else know that teaching is hard?????????

Jeane-Baptiste De La Salle
A Saint for Teachers and School Administrators
A Saint with a Charism for the whole Church.
He led the way in developing the theology of the lay teacher's vocation, as an important part of the ministry of the Church and a continuation of the ministry of Jesus.

I didn’t forget idiom’s -  here’s a doozy.  Ojo de me cara, eye of my face. In the United States we’d say, that costs an arm and a leg.  Here I’d say Cuesta  el ojo de me cara, it costs the eye of my face. Me and Wilmer had a long discussion (in Espanol) about what would be worse.
 We were recently blessed by having our Spanish Immersion School (CIS) ask us if we wanted to attend an ESL teaching workshop for their new teachers. They knew that our Mission was going to focus on Teaching ESL and we had no experience. Just one catch, one of their teachers needed a week off and they asked could we fill in? How could we say no, not to mention it would be good practice.

We learned their method which is a popular education method created by Paolo Freire  and further reinforced by Dr Stephen Krashen

The method is actually fairly simple but very different from how I learned English in school. It is how we learned English from our family and friends before we ever went to school, we acquired.  I really don’t have the background to promote it except to say I like it, it makes sense to me and it seems like a fun way to teach and learn. The results are proven by studies and I can vouch for its results because they’ve used it in teaching Dianne and I Espanol. 

Now back to the class plan. The suggested template is to have small group work and discussion, an activity that reinforces the lesson that leads to group discussion, make sure everything revolves around a social issue that has meaning to them and then do review and give homework related to the class work. How hard can it be? Well it took Dianne and I all of Friday afternoon to do this for all 3 classes that only last 1 ½ hours.  How do real teachers plan an entire week??????????????????? God bless you!!

We had our 1st class and it went pretty well except we move along too fast and we got to verb tense review before we thought. Quick progress sounds good except we hadn’t reviewed them ourselves. How would you like to explain the Future Perfect Continuous tense without being sure what it is?? Of course that was when we looked at our watch saw there was 5 minutes left and said, we need to get you better examples and let’s do it tomorrow. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

The 2nd class was very motivating not because of the work. We worked through the tenses and explanations the best we could all went very well.  Our motivation came from the introduction, we forgot to do on the 1st day. The students shared some of their lives and why they were here. It’s difficult to share the experience of hearing people explain the poverty they were raised in but also smile a little when one person says, you weren’t poor, I was poor and they tell a worse story. The stories are not funny but the interaction was. Some people had days of no food, others had days of just beans and most of them had families with no means at all of providing much of anything.  Unfortunately these are not extraordinary stories in El Salvador; actually they are very common, too common.  What is extraordinary is that out of these conditions we have these adults who expressed to us the knowledge that they needed to better themselves and that learning English was one of the steps they were taking. Most of the students had steady jobs and some were fulltime students at the Universidad. I was a little overwhelmed to listen to their accomplishments and their inner knowledge that their journeys were not over.  How can you not be motivated by a small group who don’t see themselves as victims but as authors of their own futures? I don’t believe everyone born in these conditions can rise above them, there’s just to many variables that can shut a person down when they are that vulnerable but these people through the grace of God are extraordinary in my opinion.

 Our last class was definitely the most fun.  We all needed a break from tenses so we decided to jump into Phrasal Verbs.  A Phrasal verb is a phrase or sentence that can’t be understood based on the individual meaning of each word but must be looked at as a whole. For example,  I ran into an old friend  (ran into is the phrasal verb. )As Estadounidenses we use them so much we don’t even know what they are but they make perfect sense. Espanol has no phrases that are of comparison so they have no idea what they mean because they are trying to translate them directly.  How do you” run into someone” and have it mean you met them???
The class split into two team’s women v/s men. We drew a numbered chart on the board, the teams selected a number, we read the corresponding phrasal verb and they had 1 minute to either use it in a sentence that made sense or define it.  If the team got it wrong the other team could answer and get the point. Imagine as an English speaker saying to a student OK, here’s the phrasal verb “set off” and they look back as if I said "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" J. We all had some good laughs at their expense, each team needling the other and finally the women beating the men on the final turn.

It’s the moments like the ones we shared with our class this week that remind us how the benefits of this service keep coming and are unpredictable. We experienced for the 1st time the fulfillment of explaining something over and over again to students and all of a sudden one of them looks at you, uses that future perfect continuous tense correctly and you see the proverbial light bulb go on over their heads as they say “I GOT IT, I GOT IT” smiling ear to ear with well-deserved self-satisfaction.  That’s a 2 for 1 blessing if I ever saw one.

 For all our teacher friends let us tell you right now “WE GOT IT, WE GOT IT”, now we know why most of you love your work regardless of the crap and criticisms you get. Passing on knowledge has to be one of the most noble and fulfilling things a person can do. You’ll forever have our utmost respect.

A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others. ~Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, translated from Turkish


Tomas y Dianna


1 comment:

  1. I've shared this post with three teachers so far -- one of which is my daughter. They thank you both, and so do I!