Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot for teacher!

As some of you may know, I am currently down in Roatan, Honduras attempting to find myself. I have found some semblance of what my life should be and due is due in part to my teaching experience.

The last time I left off I gave my last director a big "L" for loser, but it was simply because I truly felt the school was completely detrimental to the education of all of its students. This is only an opinion, but I do consider myself knowledgeable based on experience. So when I got to Roatan about one year ago, I chose to start all over in a school where i would feel most at liberty to create something more than just what was in the textbooks. And boy did I get the opportunity of a lifetime!

I met with the director of the school that I wanted to teach at. Two ladies introduce themselves (I will simply give a M and T for their privacy) and we began to talk about our "passion."

As I progressed, I began to give my disgruntled claims to my past experiences. I told them absolutely everything that happened to me in San Pedro Sula, sparing no detail. I wanted them to know that I was not looking for that kind of environment EVER again! I dealt with complete inadequacies of a bilingual school, so I wanted something different.

M discussed the different options with me and even mentioned her ordeals with the Honduran school s one going ystem, so I was pleased to know that I was not the only one going through such a difficult period. As I finished my disgruntled talk, we began to discuss possibilities. With the school, the possibilities seemed limitless. This was a brand new school attempting to find a niche that worked for the students and the teachers.

I began to explain that what I wanted was a working environment in which I was given an outline to perform my tasks and be allowed the opportunity for creativity. I was given the salary expectations, and was told that I would receive a call soon enough.

Well a month came by, and I received my phone call. I had gotten the first grade teaching position, which I must admit I was not too excited for. I went to school and accepted my position, even though I wanted high school, but was satisfied nonetheless. As I came in, I was told by M to read "The First Days of School" by Harry K.Wong; it would be a great way for me to be introduced to the idea of "and effective learning environment." I read the book and based my class on the principles taught by the book.

With this book, I new exactly what was expected of me as a teacher. I needed to be prepared. I needed to be prepared for every single minute of the day in the classroom. I took this extremely to heart because I had the first graders. To me, they are little kids who still want their mommas. But then I also remembered the importance of learning how to read the first chance you get. And I remembered being an ESL student, so I had to take this as my life goal, and that was to teach all of my students the fundamentals of first grade so that they were ready for second grade. This book gave me the key.

My philosophy went past preparation; it meant that I had to be ready to teach the first day of school. But it wasn't the material, such as math or reading, that I had to teach. My first days of school were focus on setting the classroom up fr the students to have an effective learning environment. So, I had to teach rules of the classroom, rewards for good behavior, and consequences for bad behavior. Everything HAD TO BE PREPARED!!!!!

My consequences were pocket cards that told you which color of behavior you were in for the day. Each color represented a consequence for behavior. It was wonderful because the students just love it and loved to get the "white card," which was always good behavior.

Rewards were treats, and surprises, but mostly the satisfaction of contributing to your class with good behavior by receiving a happy face.

With these two concepts, my class was almost ready to begin its course. All I needed were the procedures, or "management" plan for the classroom. It was simply having everything written down about every possible scenario in the classroom. From going to the bathroom to getting your lunch to beginning of the day; everything had to be planned and taught to the students in the first week of school. The reason is that first impressions are important in the classroom. The way in which a teacher chooses to introduce their classroom at the beginning of the year, then that is what the students take from it and will respond on to that setting. So if the teacher is lazy about preparation, had no rules, or consequences, and does not have procedures listed for every minute of the classroom, then it will remain so for the rest of the year.

So I picked to prepare and it turned out to be a gold mine! I will explain through my posts, but let's just say that the classroom was a success. It made me realize how possible this could be for me to be a teacher. I was very good at my job, and I must say I loved doing every moment of it! So there comes a point in time where everyone makes choices in their lives that will have a tremendous impact. I want to be a teacher.

It's funny how once I hated children, but now I am happy to work with's easier to mold them...

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