Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 1 B

November 1, 2009
I’ve got to hang on to these when I have them, because they can easily and quickly fade into the constant exhaustion of being a teacher.
I had to give exams last week so in order to study for them and prepare for them with my first graders I came up with a really simple game. I had all the questions from the exam, and a couple more to get them thinking, prepared ahead of time. I split the class up into two groups. I asked them what they wanted to be called. The first team picked “Honduras” not very original but sweet how proud of their little country they are. The second team then picked The United States. The kids here in Honduras are always on a soccer kick, no pun intended, and Honduras had just played the US. Anyway, I then asked each team a question. My normal rules for games are no shouting, you must raise your hand, you must be in your seat, and your team will lose points if you are a bad sport. My students raised their hands to answer my questions from the exam and if they got it right they got to draw and X or an O on the big Tic Tac Toe squares I had written on the board. They loved it. Tic tac toe in Spanish is called equis o cero.
Everyone was having a good time and they were answering almost all the questions right until suddenly one team won. I don’t even remember if it was the United States or Honduras that won, but winning and losing is not easy as a first grader. Part of this teaching experience has been learning how young my students really are. Often my expectations are too high and I have to readjust to fit their ability level. Anyway, I learned that next time we play a review game, it will have to be the whole class against the teacher. It seems like a simple good idea now, but until you understand that its hard for first graders to lose do you think of such ideas. I’m eager to try this next time because I think it could encourage some good teamwork also.
I also learned this first quarter that first graders and second graders actually are too young to be able to keep track of papers. This is a problem since Phonics is basically worksheet after worksheet out of a work book. I used to have them hand in the papers I was going to be grading but they either didn’t make it to me after they tore the page out, or they never tore it out, or some alien or puppy at it. Who knows, anyway this past week I have had numerous parents, (of course only the parents whose children are doing well) ask me about the pages. Next quarter I will be collecting the Phonics workbook every Friday and not tearing out any pages of the book. Hopefully the first graders and I will have better luck with this strategy.
You live you learn right? As I write this entry I realize how much I love first graders. They are a great age. They are who they are, they do not change anything about themselves for others to like them. They hardly ever do anything wrong on purpose, and they just make me laugh with some of the things, noises and sentences, that come out of their mouths and brains. I’m eager to see them tomorrow.

November 1 A

November 1, 2009
First things first; happy baptism to my sweet nephew Asher H.R. Morgan! I have not been able to talk with my family today because our internet is once again down. I’m sure today was a joyous occasion. I’m so thankful to be a part of the Christian family that Asher joined today. I feel loved and supported by so many people in the church I’m eager to watch Asher grow up in his own church community as his brother Emmanuel has already started. Asher you have been in my head and heart today. I love you and welcome you into the loving, forgiving, patient arms of God.
A couple days after I arrived in San Pedro Sula I was sitting outside with some of the girls between the ages of 9 and 13 watching them play hop-scotch. I was emotionally exhausted from the newness of everything, probably physically exhausted also, and one of the girls named Rosa was not very nice to me at all. I was shocked by her cold reaction to my trying to get to know them. I wasn’t exactly sure what to say at that point, but I waited and tried to continue hanging out. Rosa was dancing while playing hop-scotch in a very sexual way. It was so weird to see this 12 year old little girl dancing the way she was. I hurt for her, and because of that hurt, and how she had hurt me by being unwelcoming I kept my distance from Rosa. I think I reacted because it just felt like she was too much, I couldn’t relate to her and wanted to protect myself from the hurt and embarrassment she had caused me. Anyway, about two months passed of being cordial but never actually connecting. We’d play against each other on the soccer field and say hello during school but nothing more, ever. Then last week, or maybe two weeks ago, everything blurs together after awhile, I had the opportunity to connect with Rosa. I was helping a sixth grader Catherine with her math homework when Rosa called me over to help her. I jumped at the chance. I walked right over to her and asked her what she was doing.
My normal reaction would have been to tell her that I was busy with Catherine and that she needed to wait till I was done, but something came over me and I reacted in a way that proved to be key. I asked Catherine to move with me over to the table where Rosa was working so I could help them both. Catherine was working on the most beginning stages of learning factoring which I could only figure out thanks to her book, and Rosa was doing long multiplication. PS you should know that I HATE math! Anyway, I was actually helping them with math, big deal. But the best thing of all was that I had fun with Rosa, and it gave me the opportunity to see a wonderful side of her. We laughed and it felt like we were playing a game together to get her math homework done.
We didn’t have any “you mean the world to me” moments, but it is another little victory that God has blessed me with. These girls, injured and hurt in more ways than I can even imagine or understand are beautiful children of God. I am thankful for their presence in my life.