The Kalu Yala Blog

Securing Knowledge Flow: Prepping for Transition

April 14, 2011

by 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?”

Young learner, hard at work!

Young learner, hard at work!

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.

Kinder Class is working hard!

Kinder Class is working hard!

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.

Kinder Class sings "If You're Happy and You Know It..."

Kinder Class sings "If You're Happy and You Know It..."

Older student helps out in Kinder Class.

Older student helps out in Kinder Class.

One Response to “Securing Knowledge Flow: Prepping for Transition”

  1. Sandy says:

    Emily — Your last picture offers an idea that has great potential — each one teach one. There is nothing like teaching others to improve your knowledge of a subject. If you can use your older students who have been in the program a bit longer to help with teaching your younger students, both will benefit. Perhaps, you could take the top 10 or however many you need from an older class, and the ESL program could pay them a small stipend for being teachers’ assistants for the younger students. This would have the dual benefit of creating a reward for those among the older students who study hard, and it could extend the teaching staff and direct, one-on-one coaching being received by the younger students. Perhaps this would also work to have the teens teach the adults, or adults help the teens–depending on which is culturally acceptable. Maybe, as your picture suggests, you’re already doing this, if so, it seems like a terrific idea.

    Thanks so much for your great work this session!

    Sandy