Monday, October 14, 2013

Teacher Ashley

After a short stint of being a member of Future Educators of America club in 10th grade, I decided teaching wasn’t for me. And every time the choice to volunteer tutoring children or washing sheltered dogs, I always chose the latter. I even firmly said when interviewing for YASC that I refused to be a teacher or do anything with education.

When I was told I would be in the Christian Education Office all week, I didn’t know what was in store for me. Much to my delight, I learned I would be getting out of the office and visiting local church preschools. Although the teaching part wasn’t necessarily appealing, I took it on as a challenge to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed my time with the kids last week! They’re a handful at ages 2-5, highly energetic. I left every school feeling exhausted and did not take my afternoon naptime for granted. There was even some adventure involved, but let me start at the beginning.

Monday I spent learning about the role of the Christian Education Office and the schedule of the week. That afternoon I prepared my lesson plans for the different classes.

Tuesday started off with a visit to St. Stephen’s, Namillangan. With a rise in tuition and a government school being close by, the number of students who attend the preschool is low, only six. There was a miscommunication and instead of me teaching a lesson, I simply observed and assisted when needed. I was relieved and happy to ease into a classroom setting before being thrown in front of students.

Morning Prayer
Going over animals

The teacher was wonderful and you could tell she had many years of experience under her belt. The six kids’ ages ranged from 2 ½ to 4, a majority of them being 3. The morning started with prayer, morning stretches and a song. Then continued to going over animals in English and Tagalog and sounds of the vowels. After that it was snack time with a mini recess. The day finished with a coloring activity on the difference of many and few and reviewing numbers and shapes. Class only lasts from 8 – 10:30am.

"I" is for....

On Tuesday the craziness commenced. St. Mark’s, Batal school has three different levels and 41 students total. First was nursery, age 3 with 10 students. When the teacher introduced me, they all stared wide-eyed. Most of them had never seen a white person before. One even began crying but that might not have been my fault. The lesson of the day – flowers. Going over the parts of the flower on the board didn’t really go anywhere. So I had them head outside to find their own flower. We brought them all back inside to examine together. I tried to emphasize how all flowers are different and unique but all had the same parts similar to you and I. Even with the teacher translating all they wanted to do was touch all the flowers. But coloring solves everything!

Morning Prayer & Song
Finding Flowers

After that quick lesson, I switched over to kinder 2, ages 4 ½ to 5 who aren’t ready for grade 1 at the elementary school. My lesson was to teach simple addition, 1+1=2. This class was much more enjoyable to teach because they listened, responded and knew their stuff. After a worksheet, snack time, and a little bit of playtime, it was over to the other side again for kinder 1, age 4.

A quick recess break equals jumping off bags of palay.

Kinder 1 was an explosion of loud noises and chaos. The girls were precious. They sat there quietly ready to listen and learn about small, smaller, and smallest. The boys on the other hand, oh the boys. Sitting down was not an option. Some of them would simply leave the classroom or steal other children’s crayons or smash their snack on the ground. I’m not sure anyone learned much of anything. Finally, they became quiet when the teacher read a book, which still only lasted for a short while. Eventually, the teacher let them go a half hour early because they were so hyper.

And listening didn't last too long.

St. Mark's School with palay dying in front of it.
The last morning visit was to St. Peter’s, Del Pilar about a half hour away. This is when a straight shot, easy drive to the church became an adventure. Halway, about 15 minutes, into the drive we came upon a back up. Supposedly there was some sort of children’s parade happening in Alicia causing the traffic. We were sitting on a hill behind a mid-size farm supply truck. As the traffic moved forward so did the truck until the driver accidentally shifted into reverse and backed straight into us. Sitting in the front seat, I saw this entire thing happening in slow motion; something you see coming but there is nothing you can do about it. Fortunately, the impact was minor and caused only cosmetic damage. Everyone came away with no injuries of any kind. My reaction was, “well, I guess we aren’t getting to Del Pilar on time.”

This all led to Emelda and I hailing down a mini-bus – not sure why it’s called ‘mini’ because it’s the size of a normal school bus – and me experiencing another form of public transportation in the Philippines. Fortunately it was a cool morning, the bus had no air-con and we sat at a stop for 15 minutes waiting for as many passengers as possible. What should’ve been only a 15-minute drive more took another 45 minutes. But we made it and before the rain, which is the important part!

Del Pilar usually has a nursery group, age 3, from 8-10:30am and then a playgroup, age 2, from 10:30-11:30am. That morning they combined them, which led to more chaos. A couple of elementary school girls didn’t have class that morning and they became huge helpers. After another attempt of teaching the parts of flowers, the best thing that held their attention was coloring and teaching them “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”

This kid had no interest in being in class. 
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes 
Play time
The cutest, little playgroup
During lunch with the teacher, the priest and some of the families, I found out when I first walked up to the school the kids yelled, “look our teacher is Jesus!” Yes, they thought I was Jesus Christ! Supposedly, there used to be a picture at the front of the classroom of Jesus’ shining white face and shoulder length brown hair. Minus being the wrong gender, I guess there are similarities?

That concluded the fun, energetic, chaotic preschool classes for the week. I spent the rest of the time helping around the Christian Education Office and sharing marienda (snack) with the ladies on that side of the building in the afternoons. The week affirmed that I’m not meant to be a teacher. I continually give them a lot of credit for their patience and passion to teach the future generations! Someone has to do it, but it won’t be me anytime soon.

Thanks for reading!