Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Clases de Espanol

Today I started the Spanish classes and volunteered at WaaW school.

The classes were terrific. The teachers were extremely patient and helpful. I reviewed colors, numbers, family members, and foods. One teacher took me to the market to practice the names of foods and to buy fruit.

After class was lunch. Everyone at the house eats at the same time, family style. The family I live with speaks only Spanish, so it's interesting trying to communicate. Luckily, Laura is also staying at this homestay and speaks English. She's in the same FairPlay program and has been really helpful with figuring out combis and has been able to tell me where to go to get certain things like peanut butter or cereal. While the house provides all meals, it's nice to have things on hand in case I don't really like the food.

After lunch, a group of us headed to WaaW to teach the kids. Teaching kids without knowing how to properly communicate in their language is quite the experience.

Because communicating was a struggle, I had a lot of time to think about my initial reactions to the structure and format of the school. The school is great in the sense that the kids are excited to be there, are excited about learning, and they have access to things like toothbrushes, soap, and dinner. There are some challenges that I see right off the bat - like the volunteers work with different kids every day, so they are simply helping with homework vs. actually filling in education gaps. It's difficult for me because I come from a perspective where growth, achievement, and behavior management were the priorities. That simply isn't the case here. It's going to be an adjustment, but it is wonderful to see what it's like to teach in an environment where the whole child is valued. Cultivating social skills is a huge component of the program, which is so important, especially in a society where the way you connect with others can be more valuable than what you know.

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