Well, the new year has gotten off with a shot! Things are going super well, actually. I’m exhausted, but I knew that would happen. Hard to believe we’re only three days into the new school year! Already feels like we’re settling into a routine and things are running smoothly.
Like I said in my last entry – I have lots of different grade and English levels with two different curriculum. Here’s a run-down of my day —
- Classes begin at 9am with my 13 year old 8th grader, Jeremy, and my 9 year old 3rd grader, Dana.
- They work with a computer curriculum that I supervise from 9-1. I help answer questions, talk them through their work, and assign extra stuff, like book reports and memory verses, throughout the year. Mornings are relatively quiet, which is nice. I will probably end up tutoring them one-on-one if their work gets too complicated in English (which it did last year for Jeremy and I ended up verbally teaching him his English and history classes).
- We break around 1 and I come back at 2 for my afternoon classes with two 7 year olds, Janelle (Jeremy’s sister) and Diana (Dana’s sister), and one 5 year old, Nathaniel.
- We do Kindergarten from 2-5 with a short break in the middle. This is all me teaching and even though it’s fun… it’s tiring! 🙂
The afternoons are much more complicated. It’s supposed to all be in English, but my two girls don’t really know English yet. They know words and a few phrases, but can’t yet speak in English nor do they understand everything I say in English. Janelle is, for whatever reason, much more advanced than Diana, even though she’s younger. I’m assuming it’s because her big brother uses English a lot and she likes to hang out with English speaking visitors. Regardless, she’s catching on super fast. So, she’s able to understand longer phrases and at least think logically to figure out what they mean. She also tries super hard to form sentences and lets me correct her when she makes mistakes.
Diana, however, is a different story. First off, she’s super distracted. Not in a bad way. Just a typical, little kid — “Ooo look something shiny just went by the window!” — kind of way. I have to bring her attention back frequently, which is really no big deal. She also has had no outside training, so whereas Janelle can write most of her letters and numbers, Diana can barely write her name. Janelle can make out words and Diana has no clue. In a way, this is nice because she’s like a blank slate. I need to re-teach Janelle some things, but with Diana, I can just straight teach her new things, which is actually really fun. Diana is trying super hard and catching on relatively quickly. She’s seeing she can do it (which I think she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to) and she’s getting excited about learning new stuff.
Nathaniel will be new today, actually, so I don’t know a lot about him. A new American family moved to campus this week. Actually, his mom is a friend of mine since elementary school (long story about how we know each other and how we both got here). His dad is Peruvian – they met when we were here on a missions trip in 2001. His dad will be going through the Bible school program here and Nathaniel will be going through my school. He’s five next month, so he’s just in time for true Kindergarten age. He’s also an English-as-a-first-language kid, so that will definitely be to his advantage. He’s also had preschool, so like this week, even though he’s missed the first two days, I have no worries about him catching up because he already knows “F” and can count to 10.
The hard part is the language issue. Right now, I’m teaching kind of bilingually. I do the reading in English and then translate all of it (or the bulk) into Spanish. I give some directions in English, but occasionally need to repeat myself in Spanish. We have discussions about the books in Spanish, with me teaching them new English words. With Nathaniel coming, I’m not sure how this is going to work. I honestly have no game-plan. I’m going to see how today goes and… wing it. Does that sound like a bad teacher? It’s such a unique situation; I’m not really sure how to handle it. I think we’ll be fine, though. I began last year with Dana not knowing any English and in two months, she was doing everything in English. I think the little girls will be even faster than that, honestly. Yesterday I included more English than on Monday and they did just fine. We did math almost entirely in English with no problems. So, each day can only get better, right?
I am still so grateful to be here. These kids need a school – a good school. I love seeing them advance and excel. I love hearing them talk in a language they didn’t think they’d ever learn. I love the excitement of the little ones as they write their names perfectly for the first time. I love my job. This is gonna be a good year.