Tuesday, June 17, 2014

School Observations

In a lot of ways teaching here in Ecuador has been really similar to my experiences teaching and being a student in school in the US. The students study math, literature, social studies, etc. They have music once a week and they love gym class. However, there are several things I've noticed about school here that is extremely different.
The first art class I taught: masks.
1. Grades. This is the difference that is weirdest to me. Grades here are super public, they just announce them to the whole class. It seems that kids care just as much about grades, but there is no privacy when it comes to that information. It is really weird to me when I am writing down grades and the kids just come up and look at the list, but I'm fighting the urge to tell them to mind their own business because apparently here it is everybody's business.

2. Worksheets. They weirdly don't exist here. When we were reviewing for exams (which are this week and next week) the teachers wrote out review sheets for them, but then copied the questions onto the white board and each student had to copy it into his or her notebook. Everything is in the notebook, no handouts, it is all copied down.

3. Neatness. Apparently here handwriting, the color pen you use, how straight your letters are etc are all important. The neatness of your notebook is an important part of your grade, almost as important as the actual answer.
My english class learning the parts of the body and drawing with chalk.
4. Gym. Several thing about "cultura fisica" are different than the gym class I'm used to. First of all, it is all outside and at any moment dogs can run into the middle of the soccer game or cows might come and almost trample the first graders. Yes, that happened. Also, they split up based on gender not age. That means that the first and seventh graders play soccer or volleyball together, instead of all the seventh graders playing together. That is really weird to me because the first graders end up just standing there or running away from the ball.

5. Uniforms. Obviously there are some schools in the US that have uniforms, I just didn't go to them. But here every school has a uniform. AND, your uniform is part of your grade. Just like the neatness of your handwriting, having the correct uniform on the correct day matters for your grade. It seems a little unfair to me that as a first grader if your parents sends you in the wrong uniform or if it rains the day before and your uniform doesn't dry, your grade suffers. However, they do all look pretty cute in their navy vests on Mondays and their grey sweatsuits on Fridays.
English class.
Learning emotions. I did all of those impressive drawings.
7. Snack. Every day a different mother comes in a cooks snack for us. Instead of goldfish or saltine crackers though we have soup or rice with beans or lentils. For me, thats definitely a step up. The mothers have to cook one day for every kid they have in the school. Since they are all from one community and every mother has several kids there are only so many different cooks and the food is always pretty similar: simple but good. They also get granola bars or cookies from the government.

8. Exams. The exams here are more about memorization than actually knowing anything. At least for the 1st-4th graders the teacher made up a review worksheet and had them all copy it into their notebooks and study it. Then, she had me type up that exact review sheet and that was their exam. It is kind of unfortunate because I don't think they really retain any of the actual skills but rather just memorize answers. The fourth graders that I worked with on Monday have basically zero reading comprehension but they can answer questions about the stories they've read because we practiced with the review sheet.

9. The biggest difference at the school I work at is the fact that there are only two classrooms. 1st-4th graders are all together and 5th-7th. That means that there is tons of time spend working independently. That is a skill that I'm not sure many students in the US have. I know that as a second grader if I had been left alone all morning with a workbook I wouldn't gotten anything done. The discipline that all of the kids have been forced to develop is pretty impressive. However, I know that their learning is also suffering because of the lack of attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment