I’ve been teaching English in Diriamba for almost 6 weeks. I teach two fifth grades and two six grades in Rene Schick and I teach one fifth and one sixth grade in La Palmera. Teaching here is a challenging and rewarding experience. I learn new teaching techniques every day.
This week as I rushed to school, I was a little disappointed when I was told I could not teach my first 5th grade class. My Spanish is quite limited so I didn’t fully understand why. Now I had an unexpected 45 minutes. I decided to stay and study my Spanish notes. Later that day during recess I was mobbed by a bunch of my 6th graders in a group hug! They nearly knocked me off my feet!
Teaching in Diriamba is a marathon, not a dash. You must be patient, flexible, adaptable, and patient! Go slow and steady. Read your students reactions and change or adapt accordingly. Each class is different; each group of students is different even within the same school. Some classes are very large and challenging, some classes are small and challenging.
I change my Lesson Plans after each class to adjust to what worked and what didn’t work or organize and present the material differently.
During my first week teaching, the 5th Grade teacher at La Palmera suggested that I start the day with a song! I was a little taken-aback at first. I knew this was a good idea because we had used music in Ecuador to teach English. This was Thursday so I had the whole weekend to figure out what to do. I decided to use the song “If You’re Happy and You Know it” because it involved physical movement, it was repetitive and easy to learn, and it involve a few body parts that was part of my upcoming Lesson Plan. This worked very well for the 5th Graders, but I was skeptical about introducing this to the 6th graders. They tend to be a little bit more jaded trying to be ‘cool’ and uninterested. I decided to introduce this song to one of my 6th grades and now I use it for all my classes. Despite how jaded and uninterested some of these older kids tend to be, they really like to stand up and sing. Now I have the begging to sing the “ABC” song or the “Head and Shoulders” song. Now I use the songs as a review tool and I use songs to change pace when the students start to get bored or too loud. It is a very effective learning tool and its fun!... and that’s the most important lesson I have learned teaching for the first time. Have fun and be sure the students are having fun! It’s the best way to learn.