My first two weeks teaching in San Miguel have been eye opening, amazing and absolutely crazy. I am teaching the kindergarten class with Hannah and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade class with Erin. Before I started teaching I planned out the topics that would be taught each week in class while I am here and found activities, games and worksheets for the children to do that corresponded with the lesson for the week. However, to my surprise the education system in San Miguel is vastly different from the education system in the United States. The first thing that shocked me was that in the school 1st and 3rd grade are taught together, 2nd and 6th, 4th and 5th and Kindergarten by itself. I am still contemplating why 1st and 2nd are taught together and so forth…that mystery may never be solved. Another thing I was surprised at was the structure of the classroom. There doesn’t seem to be lessons or topics that are assigned each day and taught in the classroom. In the United States there are topics that must be covered throughout the year. However, the kids here in San Miguel are so sweet and are willing to learn so that’s all that matters! The children are so excited for us to be in San Miguel and always yell “ticher, ticher” whenever they see us walking around. Every day after class then give you a big hug and say “hasta manana!” I can’t help but smile and it always brightens my day!
Hannah and I have about 15 kindergarteners in our class at 8:10 am. While it is supposed to be an English class we have decided that we are going to work on teaching them basic Spanish too because the children do not know how to write, count, spell their name or know all of the colors in Spanish yet. Even though we are not going to be teaching a primarily English class, any little bit we can help them with is definitely worth it! The first week we all sat in a circle and passed around a ball and said our name and taught them all to say hi and hello. The second week we taught them numbers one through ten and the months of the year and had them do the macarena to the months of the year. Our primary objective in the kindergarten class is to find activities that are fun, simple and will also teach them.
I also teach about 30 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders with Erin at 9:20am. The students in this class have been taught some basic English words; however, there are some students who are still unable to spell and write correctly. The knowledge level in this age group ranges so much. This has made it very difficult to teach because there are a group of students who are very advanced and know the lesson I am teaching for the day already and can finish the worksheet in 10 minutes. Then there is another group of students who has never been introduced to the lesson I am teaching and needs the whole class period and one on one attention. To combat this problem Erin and I are both in the classroom and have been bringing additional, more advanced worksheets for those students who have been introduced to the topic we are teaching for the day. For example, we taught them numbers 1 through 20 and had them write out the spelling in English. Those students who finished before the end of class were then given a wordsearch where they had to find the numbers 1 through 10 in English; however, they had to already know how to spell them in English in order to find the word.
Overall teaching in San Miguel has been a great experience, and has really opened my eyes to the need for improved education systems. Even though at the end of every day teaching I am exhausted, I always look forward to going to school the next morning to see the children.