The Kalu Yala Blog
April 14, 2011by Emily Barry
Posted In: Our Global Community, The Creation of a Culture, Voices of Kalu Yala
As I prepare for a vacation next week with my family, I begin to put together lessons and activities for my “subs” (Virginia and Mimi). I start by thinking about what my objectives and goals are for the children this week and begin to create activities in order to meet these goals. Most of the time this process stays in my head and manifests itself in the form of an activity. Now, as I sit down to create a document that details how my mind’s eye envisions the class to go, a thousand thoughts start to fly through my head. Each week teaching the ESL classes teaches us something new and different that we are able to apply to the next week, leaving us with experiential knowledge specific to the classes we have completed. Now that our semester is quickly winding down, the question remains “How do I pass this knowledge off to the next batch of interns?”
This being my first experience as an ESL teacher, and even as a teacher of older children, my original thoughts about methodology for teaching this age group have morphed dramatically. Not only is the experience of teaching a new age group altering my vision, but more importantly the contrast of cultural and social norms regarding school, family and education has altered my original view of teaching. There are multiple factors impacting how effective we are as teachers from the United States. For example, having a class full of first, second and third graders creates a challenge for which we have had to adjust. Differing developmental stages and ability levels have lead to a struggle creating activities that every child can accomplish yet still feel challenged. Addressing these different challenges and factors is going to be part of the final report I will submit upon my departure from Panama.
My mission now is to brainstorm all of the hurdles the ESL program has encountered during this past semester, along with ways to overcome and address each issue ensuring that knowledge is not lost in transition. I am saddened by the thought that I will not be able to return for the maiden voyage of the ESL program in San Miguel next semester, but hope to leave my mark by passing down the knowledge accumulated over the past three months.