My First Week

On Friday, at 2:15 pm, we finished our first week as teachers at SJBS. If I could choose one word to sum it all up it would most undoubtedly be: exhausting. It was a roller coaster week of very high highs and very low lows.

Here is a little rundown of my school day. At 6am, my alarm sounds and I peel myself off of my sweaty mattress and zombie walk down the hall of our apartment and take a nice cold shower. I have now learned to love the cold shower, but I think that love is truly just a form of acceptance: as I guess true love really is. I then get dressed and spend a few minutes mentally bemoaning about the fact that I have to wear pants at school, I grab a piece of bread, slap some jelly on it and embark on my 15 minute walk to school (see past posting for deets on the walk: here).

Once I get to school, it is battle royale between the teachers in the copy room to get our final handouts ready for the day and the bell rings. Children come out from every nook and cranny running to their classes and screaming with delight. The school comes alive. My heart starts pounding with anticipation and I get excited about the day.

My first class of the day is middle school “integrado.” Integrado is the art class for the middle schoolers, but we have a great deal of freedom at our school, so it is in reality whatever I want it to be. There are school “standards” in Honduras, but, much likes the rules of the road, they are more “suggestions” than anything. Somehow the fact that I would be teaching this class slipped through the cracks and I found out a week before school started that I am the teacher of integrado, to which I replied, “Oh.”
I am no art teacher: I don’t even know what the hell an acrylic is. But I AM an actor…. so I decided to play to my strengths make this class an exploration in 4 different artforms: drama, chorus, music and art. I thought I would just start with what I know (drama) and by the time art came around, I could have done a little research on what happens in an art class.

Integrado has been my favorite class. The first day was a little rough. They are middle schoolers and my warmups involve them acting like a monkey, which apparently isn’t the coolest thing to do in middle school. Slowly I am breaking them of this “too cool for cool” exterior and trying to implement a “new cool”. However optimistic I may be, I do realize that hormones are a very powerful beast and I try to take it in stride.

Low-points of my week:
Sunday -before the first day of school, the whole of Cofradia was without power. We could not print any of our necessities for the first day and had to plan our week without the benefit of fans… It was a hard day.
Wednesday- While I was on watch on the little kid playground, a first grader fell off the monkey bars and broke his arm. Oh, the guilt! This same day that I had recess and lunch duty was also the day when it was my team’s turn to make dinner for all 14 teachers. We made beautiful quiches that took an hour longer than they were supposed to. Hungry and cranky volunteers breathed down our backs. One quiche turned into a volcano in the oven and we lost about 4 eggs worth of quiche filling to the sink. Bad day…

High points of my week:
Monday- One of my favorite 5th graders from the science class that I taught over summer brought me a very pretty picture that she drew that said “I heart science” on the top of it.
Thursday- My 7th graders were all lined up and doing the silent signal for me before my class started without my even asking them!
Friday- After having sat down with my 8th/9th grade drama class and having a talk about the importance of participation in the classroom, and how taking the right kinds of risks is the most important thing that they can do in their middle school lives, they got so much better at giving their all in class! After school, the gringos played soccer against a group of Catrachos (Hondurans). We have been honing our skills, trying to not look so white, and this week it all started coming together. USA! USA!
Sunday- We bought a new fan so now we can have a fan in both bedrooms and in the living room at the same time. Seemingly unimportant, but in actuality this is huge. This means I can actually be in a room by myself and have a fan on me at the same time. No more huddling around it in the living room…

Okay. It is now 9pm and I should probably go to bed. Week 2 here I come…