I just finished my first full week of work here in Comayagua. We had 7 days of planning and meetings. Staff meetings are exactly as much fun as they are in the US. Planning was different than what I’m used to after teaching the same Spanish course for 9 years. I always try to change up my materials and activities, but I teach exactly the same content. This year, not only do I have completely new content, (math and science), I had to submit a complete assignment calendar for the first quarter. No more flying by the seat of my pants.
There’s a van that comes around and picks up the teachers in the morning. Ricardo, the driver, has been arriving promptly at 7:30, but from tomorrow on he’ll be coming at 6:10. No, that wasn’t a typo. Fortunately, our neighbors have an insane rooster so I’m awake before 5:00 a.m. every day anyway. I actually like the earlier hours, because it gets dark here around 6:30. This way I get more daylight hours.
There are 6 new teachers besides me – all from the United States. They are all young and beautiful so I feel like the grandmother. All of them have lived abroad. Some of them have worked as teaching assistants, but I think I’m the only one who has been a regular classroom teacher. There are a few returning American teachers, and a few Honduran teachers who are part of the English program.
Lunch is always wonderful. Yami cooks for all the teachers. It’s usually traditional Honduran food including beans, rice, tortillas, but she does mix it up a bit. I’m learning to drink bags of juice or lemonade without squirting it all over myself. You just bite a small hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze.
At EBH (Escuela Bilingüe Honduras) all math and science is taught in English. Unlike the bilingual program in Rock Hill where only math and science are taught in the target language, they also have direct instruction in the English language focusing on spelling, grammar, and reading. In the secondary program they also offer history classes taught in English. French is also offered, but none of the content is taught in French. I met most of my kids during the week as they came in to drop off their personal materials and supplies for the class such as copy paper, soap, toilet paper, and tissue. I was blown out of the water by how well they speak English. These are 5th graders who have never traveled outside of Honduras, many of them sounding like they grew up in the US. It really highlights the inadequacies of the program I just left, where most kids don’t start a second language until 6th grade, and then only have classes for 45 minutes every other day.
My hosts’ granddaughter is a rising 4th grader at EBH. Her English is better than my Spanish and she has been giving me the scoop on all the students and teachers: “Everybody is SOOO nice!” She was over here last week taping labels with her name on her zillions of markers, pens, and pencils. She has a stack of school books that probably weigh as much as she does. I was impressed to see that they actually have a text book for critical thinking. Whoa! She had told me that my class was crazy. When I mentioned to her yesterday that everyone was nice, she gave me “that look” and said, “The parents were there. They have another side.”
This week was all about preparation. We had to decorate our doors (thankfully we don’t have bulletin boards). I learned that our school building was originally a mall. That actually makes sense, as there is one large hallway that runs the length of the building, all of the classrooms have glass windows that face the interior hall, and the second floor walkway looks down onto the first floor. Not that anybody is competitive or anything, but it’s easy to check out each other’s doors.
So, tomorrow is the big day when I finally get to start teaching! I can’t wait!