Megan McDonough has been teaching English through WorldTeach since July. Recently, she celebrated her birthday and was delighted to discover that her students had planned a surprise for her, complete with food, balloons, and flowers! In her blog, she shares this great story, along with a few others about her experience teaching in Paihuano! Happy birthday, Megan!
Last week was my birthday. I celebrated twice with the other volunteers(once in their home and the other in La Serena), but I wasn’t expecting to celebrate much in school because not many people at my schools knew that it was my birthday. One of the teachers at my school in Diaguitas did though and he apparently told not only his students, but the other teachers and the principal. I had a few students come up to me and wish me a happy birthday before the bell rang. Then after the bell rang the students wouldn’t let us into the classroom. I was confused and frustrated at first because I needed to get into the classroom to write something on the board for the first activity that I had planned. It wasn’t until the principal came up to me, wished me a happy birthday and gave me a beso that I figured out what might be going on. From that point on was really cute watching the students stick their heads out every once in a while and smile at me. When they finally let me in it was amazing. The room was decorated with balloons and the board said Happy Birthday in English. There was also a table full of food. My students sang to me the happy birthday song in Spanish, but it was kind of a remix version. Lol. Then they made a line and each student gave me a beso. The last girl in line then surprised me by giving me some flowers that she made out of foam. After that Patricio gave me a card that the whole class had signed and an agenda book for 2013 in Spanish. While we ate that ton of food we danced to some popular Chilean pop music. This is one of the main reasons why I love this school.
Another reason that I love this school is because of how much freedom we have when teaching these students.
This is partly because the teacher they have teaching English to these students doesn’t know a lot of English so he lets us take the lead. We play a lot of educational games with them which causes them to learn the material better. We have been teaching the different age groups different topics. The younger students (4th and 6th) have been learning about parts of a house, parts of the body, and sports and hobbies. They have enjoyed playing games such as charades, Simon says, bingo, telephone, etc. to practice. Last week we had to review with them all of the vocabulary. So to help them review the parts of the body we had them label their classmates.
The older students (the 7th graders) have begun to learn about prepositions and they love to do scavenger hunts to find things. We have also played a trust game where a partner has to direct their partner around the room. That was very interesting.
As you might be able to tell from the picture the classroom that we teach in doesn’t have a lot on the walls. That is common here and very different from the classrooms in the United States. Also, One of the difficult things about doing these fun activities with the kids is the need to create all the materials that we want to use in both schools. For example, I have made many copies of bingo boards by hand, a parts of the body worksheets, and every time we play charades we have to write out the slips of paper with the words on them and cut them out.
Neither school has easy access to a printer nor a copier so making things by hand is actually easier. This is something I am still getting used to here. It is for sure different from the United States.
I still enjoy working at Monte Grande as well. I have begun to teach more activities. My teacher really liked the bingo game that I made to help the 4th grade review members of the family, professions, and places where people work. (Seen above) I hope to continue teaching more in this class and some of the other grades. Right now I am still more of an assistant and help with pronunciation a lot. This can be a good things sometime too though. For example, I have recently started working with the 4th grade students on pronunciation of the words of the song that they will be performing for the English musical competition that they will be competing in early in November. My students are doing two songs from Mary Poppins (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Its a Jolly Holiday”). The two main students for the first song learn fast. Once they learn pronunciation we will learn on to the dance. I am still working on a way to make this more fun for them though. This will hopefully be a fun way to get them to practice English. I will be getting observed on Thursday so I will get a chance to teach a whole lesson to the 2nd graders about school supplies and reviewing colors and numbers. I am very excited, but I have a lot of preparation to do. My sixth graders are still a tough class to work with especially since now one of my students has a crush on my and refuses to stop telling me in class. Some of the other volunteers are having this problem too. I try to get him to just concentrate on his work. It is kind of working lol.
I have been working with Margarita (the woman from the restaurant near my school in Monte Grande) for a few weeks now. I work with her on Mondays and Thursdays after school. It is interesting. I have been teaching her important vocabulary that she needs to know about a restaurant (like food and how to talk to a customer about the menu, etc.). We do a lot of dialogues after I teach her new vocabulary. I have a picture Spanish/English dictionary that I allow her to look through too so that she can ask me questions as we go because sometimes she doesn’t even know what she wants to learn. Last week I taught her tourist vocabulary that didn’t necessarily have to do with the restaurant. I taught her how to give directions and talk about building that are in town and nearby so that she can direct her clients and others on the streets more easily. I am looking forward to more sessions with her because sometimes I learn more Spanish too.
I hope that this helps give you a better idea as to what I have been experiencing in the schools. Hopefully, I will be able to post again soon. Until then Adios and Buenas Noches.