AISJ: Day 4

12 01 2012

We’ve just finished our fourth day of school, and boy did I forget how exhausting teaching every day is.  So far I’ve taught two lessons – a math lesson on Wednesday and a math lesson on Thursday.  Both of them went really well.  My co-op knows I’m confident in teaching math, so this is a great way to ease into teaching and getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of the students.  I’ve already noticed one lower student and one much higher student that I’m going to try and work with as much as possible in math.

I’ll tell you a little bit about my classroom – there are 16 students total, but two of the students are out because of sickness/traveling so there are only 14 students for now.  They come from a variety of places – Norway, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, and Japan are just a few of the countries.  The students are very diverse and we have a number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in our class, meaning English is the second (or third) language that they are learning.

The students are diverse in background, but also diverse in interests, hobbies, and travels.  Yesterday our ‘share’ during Morning Meeting was a response to the question, “What is your favorite place you’ve visited?” In some schools in this states, many students would name states or cities within the US.  Here, though, the students listed: New York City, America, Malaysia, Paris, Japan, Paris, UK, and other countries.  It’s amazing how much these students have traveled, and they’re only 9 or 10 years old!

I’m absolutely loving these students so far.  In addition, my co-op is pretty fantastic, and her classroom management is impeccable.  She has created a loving, respectful, and caring classroom community where the students feel safe and are extremely welcoming to newcomers.  Between morning meetings, closing circles, and everything in between, the students look out for each other and the class as a whole.  In general, the students in this whole school are friendly and happy.  Maybe it’s the weather, the atmosphere, the teachers, the students, the parents, or a combination of everything.  The vibe here is just so much more relaxed, but still accomplished and I really feel like the kids are learning.

One thing that’s significantly different is that the students are able to walk themselves from place to place throughout the school day.  This saves the teachers a lot of time and I think puts a lot of trust in the students.  The students are sent on their way to get to lunch, recess, specials, more specials, and even the bus stop (though my co-op and I walk our kids to the bus to say bye).  I really think it gives the students an ownership of their behavior and knowledge that the ‘adults’ trust them to get from one place to another on time and quietly.

I have many more thoughts and comments on my class, but for now, I’ll leave you with a picture of something I’m still getting used to – being on the left side of the road!  The drivers are on the right side of the car, and riding in the ‘passenger seat’ of a car on the left side is certainly a new experience.  Just being on the roads in a car or bus is eye-opening, and this translates even to walking down the hall and navigating the grocery store.  In the US, we typically walk down aisles of the grocery store on the right side, but here, you walk down on the left.  I definitely have to make a conscious effort to remember to do this, but hopefully I’ll get the hang of it soon!

Our first bus ride in South Africa!




One response

16 01 2012

Buddy, your description of the school, students, and atmosphere is wonderful! I’m so happy that you’re experience teaching has been successful so far! You go, girl!

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