Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Colegio

So I've been posting blogs and photos from all my trips in this Chilean adventure, but now it's time to share what I really do with all my time. This blog is all about the Colegio, translated literally to "college," but it's what they call high schools around here.

My School
Liceo Bosque Nativo = "Native Forest
Kids in ONE classroom = 45
Block Periods = 1 1/2 hours for each subject

Poverty Rate = 70%

Uniforms = Yes

Amount of kids I teach every week: 360

Our School Color = Green

Here's How It Works:

I work 25 hours in the school and about 6 hours outside of it with extra curricular activities, so I get Fridays off...sweet!

I work with 2 English teachers, Rosita and Janette, but mostly I work with Miss Rosita and she is AWESOME. She's 26 years old, fun and very flexible.

Miss Rosita and I split the class, so I take the first 23 students for 45 minutes, and then we switch the kids so I teach the 2nd half of class for the last 45 minutes. Miss Rosita teaches the grammar parts with reading and writing, and I provide the fun activities, songs and games to get the alumnos (students) to practice listening and speaking.

How It's Really Going:
So I had high expectations of speaking with the students, but reality has hit and it's saying, "These kids don't study!" I've found that it's the same in ALL classes, not just English. I am teaching high school and these kids have learned English since 5th grade and when I ask, "How are you?" I get an absolute blank look back. So I've adjusted. My lesson plans are VERY simple and provide A LOT of structure. For example, today we reviewed "Winter Vacation Vocabulary" so I drew a stick figure skier on the board and the kids had to draw and label the skier with items of ski clothing. Then we repeated all the words. The kids get a kick out of it because we're doing a lot of group exercises and games.

Other Lesson Plans:

*The Hokie Pokie
*Bob Marley songs
*Dress for the Weather
*Practicing Imperatives with a Beach Ball

*Using a Student to Label the Parts of the Body

Advice I've Received:

Everyday I still find it incredible how much these kids don't understand because they are unmotivated to learn. (How well would you learn stuffed into a classroom with 45 of your friends and no room to separate the desks away from each other?) So the teachers tell me:

"Enjoy your time here. You are a foreigner and that alone will help these kids think differently."

"Just teach them the basics. If you can get them to respond to "how are you?" you've accomplished something."

"Relax and remember some of these kids have bigger problems outside of school. Make your classroom a fun and safe environment."

So I've finally listened to the advice and we spent a week learning ways to respond to "How are you?" We made posters and lots of visuals and everyday I ask the kids that question. They are finally responding in a variety of ways, even in the hallways outside of the classroom!

The key is to "go with the flow." To be honest, I'm starting to get attached to these kids as I'm beginning to remember a lot of their names and we all have been laughing together in the classroom, although some of them still drive me crazy. It's difficult to get the whole class to listen, but I just figure the ones who want to get something out of the class will. And I've been helping out with the basketball team. Coach Robert told me that after I started helping out, more girls have been coming to practice =)
PS- Robert is the big black guy who was a shock to see on my first day. He's from New Jersey and plays professional basketball here in Chile.

Other Differences:
1. The kids occupy a classroom for the whole day. For example, Aula 4 is always in classroom #4 and the teachers do all the switching. But I get my own classroom so I can make seating arrangements and decorate it however I please.

2. All teachers wear white lab coats.

3. There is no heat in the school, so kids wear gloves, scarves and hats. The teacher's lounge is the only place with heat and no one ever wants to leave it!

4. The gym is a barn with one light.

5. When the teacher walks into a room, the students stand at attention until asked to sit.

6. They all call you Miss + your first name. So I am always Miss Kim/Kem.

7. They have "inspectadoras" who take care of all the discipline, roam the halls, lock the school doors and call parents if the student is not in class.

8. The kids love to play ping pong in between classes, and they're really good at it.

9. There's something called "THE BOOK" which is really like the Bible. It has a roll call of the students for a specific class (ex: Aula 4). All the grades, lesson plans and absent kids are written in this book. The teachers scramble with them at the end of term so they can finish all the grades, but you only have the book while you're teaching that class.

Check out our Facebook page: Bosque Nativo English Club!

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