Saturday, March 21, 2009
Isla Bonita Elementary School
Isla Bonita is a small school with approximately 100 students. The students who attend the school have to pay 250:00 Belizean ($125 American) a month. On Wednesday, March 18th when we arrived to San Pedro we went immediately to the school to meet the other teachers. All of the teachers were welcoming to us and Addy, the principal, was ready to get us to work. In fact, after the meeting she asked if I would be willing to begin teaching on Friday (Even though we weren't supposed to start until Monday). Without any hesitation I said that I would, but was nervous as I had no idea what the curriculum would be like.
8am Friday morning I showed up to the school. They begin every morning with the Lord's Prayer as well as singing the National Anthem. It was really neat to witness this as all the students are expected to sing along and participate. The classroom I will be working in is the Infant II class (5 & 6 year old). They were all very excited to have me. The reason Addy needed me to teach immediately is because one of her teachers in on maternity leave and she was stuck teaching. As I walked into the classroom I was given a book that contained the lessons and a wooden stick. I was given permission from Addy to use the stick if needed. I know that I will not be using it while teaching at the school, as I feel strongly to use positive reinforcement rather than punishment.
The students took well to me, although definitely were 'testing' my limits as any five or six year old would do. I quickly noticed everything is drill oriented. The students have 6 different notebooks that are each color coded to LA, Science, Social Studies, Spanish, Writing, and Math. I am given a dry-erase board and put notes on it and the students are expected to write the exact notes in their appropriate book. The writing and language arts is all repetition, they copy a sentence and write it for 2 pages in their book. This was an adjustment for me, as I tend to use more of a hands-on approach.
The schedule is very important to them. The students are expected to learn a new idea within the time allotted and if they did not understand, I was expected to continue moving forward. Again, this will take a little time to get used to as I pace my lessons based on the students progression through them.
I have 9 students in my class. They are all very cheerful and love having a new face in the classroom. I am really looking forward to trying and implementing some of my own ideas and beliefs. It seemed the students responded well to positive reinforcement, so I am really looking forward to using 'little ques' more often throughout the school day.
This will definitely be a learning experience, and I am looking forward to taking a lot away from the school, students, teachers and culture.
That is all for now. Check in soon!