I've always wanted to be a teacher. Even as a little girl, I would go to school and come home and play school. I was the teacher who created the assignments, the students who completed the assignments, and the teacher who graded the assignments.
Being a teacher.....it's who I am. And being in a school......it is my home.
I have felt tremendous joy, connectedness, curiosity, inspiration, compassion, empathy, and solidarity with the teachers I have had the privilege to meet here in Colombia. It has been such an illuminating experience to meet face-to-face with teachers and administrators to celebrate what is going so very well in our schools, in our classrooms and in our communities. And it has been validating to know that we share similar challenges - directives from 'above' that do not match local need, in the midst of sweeping reform (the US with Common Core and Colombia with their bilingual initiative and their goal to have all students speaking English and Spanish by 2025.)
The teachers I have met are committed, driven, and care deeply about their students. They are working collaboratively with colleagues to improve their instruction and to improve the lives of their children. This is how I strive to be.
As a teacher, being with the children has been the most invigorating part of my days. Yesterday, by mid-day, I was fading oh-so-fast with the tremendous heat and humidity. My saving grace - the children (oh, and a lovely iced treat.) At the beautiful Bertha Gedeón de Baladi, only one classroom has air conditioning (the children in that grade raised money or won money to buy the AC) while the others have ceiling fans and open windows. I had the privilege of observing an Ethics class that is held outdoors in a lovely outdoor classroom. The class was discussing the value of peace.
I love watching teachers teach, and I love being able to jump in. Last week in Bogotá, at the beautiful Colegio Codema, I had the opportunity to spontaneously teach a lesson to a fifth grade class. Janneth, a wonderful teacher of English, allowed me to teach the concept of there is vs. there are. It was such a wonderful time for me - working with children, making connections, jumping in with my Spanish, sheltering instruction in English, high-fiving kiddos when they got it. Yesterday, at Bertha, I had the opportunity to present a lesson about New Mexico to a truly wonderful group of ninth graders. I have never taught a class of 45 children and I was so impressed by their presence, focus and respect in the classroom (and, remember, it was at least 90 degrees in the classroom.) The secondary students at Bertha attend school in the afternoon (from 1 - 7pm) while the elementary children attend in the morning. My colleague, John, was teaching his science lesson to students at 7pm when the sun was down! Incredible!
Teaching, communicating, laughing, learning -- my 30 minutes with the children was one of the most lovely experience of my life. At the end of the lesson, I presenting the children with the friendship bracelets and notes my students made for my students in Colombia a few months ago. I felt the presence of my beloved kiddos from MMCS here, with me, in Cartagena. It was a profoundly joyful connection.
The students and faculty at Bertha have offered to us the warmest welcome and they have become a part of me.
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