There is nothing like seeing the joy on a child’s face when they enter school for the first time.
School has begun! The first couple weeks have been a success, with double the amount of students as last year. The first week, only two students came from 8am-10am, then another two-three came from 10am-12pm. So only about 4-5 students each day that week, for a short while to help them get adjusted to the environment, the teachers, and the routine. This allows for every student to get one-on-one attention/instruction from a teacher. I personally found this method to be very beneficial, especially for these families. The boys especially tend to be babied as they are growing up. This makes the transition to school rather difficult for them. It was rather shocking to see some of the students cry/scream when they entered school, even though their mother was literally upstairs at school. The mothers stayed and waited for the two hours to be over. Yet still, some children had a hard time leaving their mother’s side. For me, this is one of my favorite challenges about being a teacher. And this is why I really do want to teach the little ones. Being a kindergarten or preschool teacher means you are the first role model/motherly figure in these children’s lives second to their mother. They are so used to being with their mom 24/7 and starting school for the first time, can be difficult. I embrace this challenge and love to see these children grow into independent individuals.
Now that that week is over, we have met all of our students this year. And I must say….they are SO cute!! I still can’t get over how small they are, especially the three year olds, my favorite! These children have the biggest, darkest eyes, that look at you with so much love and hope. They truly inspire me to want to be the best teacher I can be, because I know just how important education is in their life. And more than education… love. We teach them courtesy, kindness, independence, and responsibility. This school is created with different motives than a traditional public school because these children do not have role models at home to teach them all of these things. Its a rather daunting task, but Diane Jackelyn and I are all passionate and more than ready to take it on. Then, the past two weeks was the start of the year with all 25 students. There were days that were challenging, days that were difficult, and days that were amazing. A normal start to the year in my opinion. I was amazed at how quickly the students became normalized and used to the Montessori method. With this many children, it will take time to normalize the children, and set boundaries but we are so confident in the students and already seeing so much progress. It will, without a doubt, be a different year. But, different for the better because this year, we can impact the lives of 25 children! And that is something to be excited about!
Take a Risk, See Results!
Every Friday, Jackelyn has a class for teen girls with ages from 11-14. The past two weeks I have sat in on her class and participated/observed. This age group makes me very uncomfortable back home even, but here especially. It has always been a weakness of mine, teaching older children. My passion is with the younger ones. This class is so important for the wellbeing and lives of these pre-teen girls. They are taught at home that their main goal in life is to get married and have children…young. They are not driven to be educated. And most likely, their husband will leave them or have other women on the side. It is a terrible cycle that continues to be passed from generation to generation. Jackelyn’s class teaches these women about morals, values, responsibility, independence, integrity and dreams. As I have been observing I have noticed these girls are SO shy, and it is like pulling teeth to get them to talk and answer questions. The past two weeks the theme has been about integrity. Jackelyn has been struggling to motivate these girls to participate, they are SO quiet. Last week I told her, we need to do something different.
All week I have been brainstorming and today I taught the class! Before I started the lesson, I asked the girls, “Do you want to dance?” I love to dance, even though I am terrible, it can be so much fun! We put on some music, and everyone just stood there. These girls are not used to dancing, or moving at all! I started to dance and literally make a complete fool of myself! I was able to get all the girls laughing, and participating!! We did a congo line around the chapel and outside. It was literally ridiculous, but in such a good way. I wanted to get the girls warmed up to participate. When it came time to teach…I was so nervous I was shaking the whole time. I had prepared notes and everything. We started by making self-portraits. Then after, the girls independently had to write 10 different words all around their self-portrait. These words were words that described their personality, their values, their passions, and beliefs. These words could describe who they are now or who they want to be. They had to think past words like pretty, and nice. More complicated and meaningful words like sincere, loving, compassionate, independent, responsible, faithful, mature, passionate, patient, and so on.
I had an example prepared to model to the girls. I made it very clear that they have to be able to explain WHY each word is on their paper and is important to them. For example my examples were “loving: I want to be loving to my family and my boyfriend because they are important to me.” “educated: I want to be educated so that I can get a good job and support myself.” “honest: I want to have strong relationships with my friends and family so that they trust me.” This activity challenged the girls to reflect on their life, and them self. After the portraits were made, the girls then had to present and talk about their words and why those words are important to them. Their responses melted my heart. One girl said, “I want to be educated so that I can educate my own children one day.” The girls are normally shy and quiet, but this activity allowed them to really jump out of their shell and have a very powerful discussion. Every one participated, and it was more than a success. I could not stop smiling afterwards. Its moments like this when I know I am a role model in their life. I am impacting their life! Today I faced a HUGE fear…but lets be honest, every day I face a new fear…but this fear left me feeling more proud and fulfilled than anything I have experienced yet.