Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teacher, teacher

February flew by and it´s hard to believe that it is March already. The past month was filled with new beginnings, new experiences, and several new challenges. I am now in the third week of classes and I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into my day-to-day life.

Here’s a typical day for me (although each day is filled with its own unique conversations and events):

                I wake up at 5:30 am. Yes, I actually get out of bed before the sun comes up! I leave the house by 6:20 or so to catch my bus. The bus that I take only comes every 15 minutes so I have to be sure I catch it so I will be on time for work. (I have already missed it twice now and I´m confident that I looked ridiculous running down the street after my bus.)
Classes start at 7 am and end at 12 noon for most of the students. A little information about the school I teach at: the school is called Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and is a Fe y Alegria (Faith and Joy) School. This means, among other things, that it is a partially private school. The teachers’ salaries are paid by the government but the rest is funded by Fe y Alegria. The school provides the opportunity for children from pre-escolar up through the 5th and final year of secondary to receive an education. This is the equivalent of preschool through senior year of high school. Due to the number of students, fifth and sixth grade have classes in the afternoon from 12:30 until 5:15 pm.
                All that being said, in the mornings I mostly observe (and sometimes co-teach) English classes for first and second year of secondary (approximately 7th and 8th grade). I also am observing physical education classes and this week have started teaching the kids (in all of secondary) a mixture of gymnastics and cheerleading. This is both absolutely entertaining and enjoyable for me. I love being able to get out of the classroom and share my love of gymnastics with the students. I am also grateful for the opportunity to interact with them on a different level. These next couple of weeks, I will be looking for the students who seem to have the most potential in cheerleading/gymnastics. Then, I will pick a team of about 20 or so and we´ll practice once or twice a week in the afternoon. Vamos a ver… (We´ll see…)
                I eat lunch in the teacher´s lounge with a few of my co-workers. They are wonderful and very encouraging and supportive. In my opinion, talking with them is one of the best aspects of my job. Although my Spanish is no where near where I hope it will be one day, we are able to joke around and talk about a wide range of topics – even though there are numerous words that I don´t understand.
                In the afternoon, I do a lot of waiting around. I am observing the phys ed classes and I teach 4 different English classes (there are 2 sections of 5th grade and 2 of 6th). The thing is that some days I wait around until 2:30pm or even until 4pm to teach my one class. These English classes are usually the most challenging part of my day and I´m thankful I only have one each day, except for Mondays. I am by myself in the classroom, unless I ask a teacher who has a free hour to accompany me and help me with discipline. The average class size is about 35 students but some classes have over 40 so it is definitely a challenge for me to get all of them to pay attention. Also, while it is true that I´m teaching English, I mostly speak Spanish in class because they only know a few basic words. I have had some really challenging days and then a couple where I feel pretty proud of myself. Throughout college, I gradually developed a sense of admiration for teachers and that has certainly increased even more since being here. Teaching is hard work! Most days, I am not sure that anything I said sank in but I am definitely learning a lot.
                After I teach in the afternoon, I head home. By the time I get home, I´m exhausted. We eat dinner as a community every night and we all take turns cooking. Mondays are my nights. I am slowly learning how to cook, which my co-workers find amusing and offer me advice on what to make. We have one community night and one spirituality night each week. On the other nights, we might watch a movie or have some Nicaraguan friends over for dinner or read and write letters and catch up with each other. I try to get to bed by 9:30 or 10pm every night. I know that seems early but I do have to get up at 5:30am!!
               The nine of us Jesuit Volunteers here in Nicaragua just went on a retreat this past week and it was a great opportunity to spend time together and process our time here thus far. We were able to get out of the city and travel north to a little community up in the mountains. Our last morning there, we all woke up at 5am and hiked up a mountain to watch the sunrise. The natural beauty that surrounded us was incredible.    
Overall, I feel good about being here. While things have not been easy, I continue to be grateful for my community and the people that surround me. At the end of the day, I am exhausted and mentally drained from trying to think and speak in Spanish all day but I also feel very full.


  1. Hi Adrienne!

    I am so happy to hear how your teaching has been going!! Once you get more familiar with the class and observe other teachers, I am confident you will be able to control the classroom better! It is definitely a learning experience! That is so awesome you can teach gymnastics! They must love that! You wake up an hour before I do and I go to bed as the same time as you, I understand why you do that, it is exhausting! I am so happy you are enjoying your time there! I couldn't stop cracking up reading about your "domestic" skills, Grandma and I should have taught you a few things before you left! haha I love hearing from you! I love you so much and I am incredibly proud of you and what you are doing!

    Much love and hugs,


  2. Hi! This post was so enlightening. A glimpse into your day. I can't imagine having the energy to do all that you are called to do in a day! I am praying that your students appreciate you and calm down so they can learn all that you have to teach you. I am thankful for all the people who support you there and help you in any way. I'm sure you are doing an amazing job, profe!!
    I love you and miss you, Mom

  3. My Spanish-speaking Adrienne!

    I was thinking about you today because Ash Wednesday is tomorrow so I was talking with the Miller's last night (yes, I still live there) about what we are giving up for Lent. Mrs Miller mentioned that she is going to write a letter a day to a different person just like you did last year! That was such a good idea :)You are always inspiring people, and I'm so incredibly proud to be your friend.

    I'm glad you are adjusting well to life in Nica despite the early mornings and cockroaches, haha! You are a better person than me! One look at those bugs, and I'd be out the door! I have no doubt that you are an incredible teacher - I only wish I could be a fly on the wall during one of your classes :)

    Love you and miss you more!

  4. That makes two people who liked your Lenten idea so much that they adopted it as their own.

  5. Hi Adrienne! Your stories are so inspiring. I admire YOU!...I was going to type a list of every adjective that applies but I would consumer your entire blog space. What an amazingly long day you have but how exciting to be able to positively impact so many children. I am sure teaching gymnastics and cheerleading will bring much joy and laughter to you and the children. Have a happy Lent! Love you, Auntie H

  6. Your day sounds so similar to mine! :) But I have to say I thought teaching Algebra II to 32 students was bad... I could not imagine over 40! (and in a different language!) I am so proud of you! Keep up the amazing work girl! From what I have learned this year, your students take in a lot more than you ever realize. Even if it is not always exactly what you were meant to teach them on that given day. They are learning so much more about life and love through you! Sending love and prayers! Natalie

  7. Hi Adrienne I got your card thank you very much. Wow do you work long days or what? Not only are you going to have those kids speaking great English, you will also have a world class gymnastic team as well. It also sounds like your house mates will soon have you equiped with the skills to be a true domestic godess. What an adventure you are on.

    Love Ashley