First Week Finished!

My first week here at Urbitztondo Elementary has been amazing. I finally managed to get all the paperwork signed, the clearance from the local government official, and I have officially been added to the school staff (unpaid!) list.

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I had some amazing friends help me set up my classroom! It’s far from ideal (read: no desks, and not enough chairs for all the students), but at least we managed to get it clean, with a light and a fan (that’s what the guys in the photo are doing).  Class began on Monday for me, and I have been charged with English Enrichment and Remediation for grades 4, 5, and 6. This appointment is perfect, as the students are now receiving double the English instruction time (Available here) – 1 hour from their regular teacher, and 1 hour from me. As far as I’m concerned, 3 hours of time in from of the students is not enough, but I will begin pulling small groups of lower grade children when I have settled into my routines for 4, 5, and 6.

The biggest challenges are as follows: seating, class-size, and level of English.

Class-size and seating really go hand in hand, since if I had smaller classes, the seating I have now would not be failing so horridly. Essentially, I don’t have chairs or desks enough to fit 38 students. My two 6th grade sections are amazingly small (23 and 26!), and I have no problems with them working on the floor on gymnasium mats. There is enough space for them to sit comfortably, but still be close enough to me that I can help them stay focused. NOT SO with 38 students.

I will be trouble-shooting this problem this week. I bought some clipboards (not enough in the store, of course), and some individual sized mats, so we will see what happens.

The level of English is worse than I thought it would be. Most of the students have been trained to copy directly from texts, and speaking skills are clearly not practiced very often outside of my class. I gave my 6th graders a reading comprehension diagnostic test intended for 3rd graders, and only 6 of them had any level of proficiency (out of 49). I have my work cut out for me!

On a positive note, in terms of academics, 54% of the 6th grade class handed in proficient work after the very first lesson I taught that required original writing (not copying from texts). I’m trying to stay positive. 54% is not my end-goal, but I know that this is a new concept, so I am pretty happy about reaching more than half in the very first lesson.

I really could write all night about this, because I am so excited, and teachers are notorious for being able to go ON and ON about their work. I will leave it there for now, and I hope you will check back to see what happens next!

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