Tips for Teaching

There are so many things I could write about when it comes to my time in Honduras as it comes to an end. I’m trying to think of what I wish I could tell my past-self to prepare for my year at CBS.IMG_2160 - Copy (2)

Here are three tips I think every scared incoming teacher should know. Being a teacher ‘ain’t’ easy, but it’s incredibly worth the struggle for the sake of creating a better world, and a better you.

The learning curve for an unexperienced teacher was brutal. Before arriving I earned a 120-hour TEFL certification online, and I thought I had a good idea of what I’d be doing in-class for the next ten months. The value of hands-on learning for teachers, however, is insurmountable. Please be ready to accept change to your classroom on a daily basis. You will constantly be making discoveries (especially in your first month) about how different modes of discipline work, how your students react to different things, and which activities succeed or fail. You will undoubtedly find yourself on google every day looking for tips and resources (our newly-implemented Cambridge and Trinity recommendations will work wonders in this way) and by the end of the first month you’ll probably be a completely different teacher. Open mindedness is never a bad trait. As a teacher, it can be a life-saver.
IMG_1961VOLUNTEER-TIP®: Meditating for 20 minutes some days helped me astronomically in taking a step back to develop a plan to continue. Any day you feel overworked, just relax anywhere you want, and repeat a mantra pertaining to your struggle. Perhaps, “[This] will not defeat me.” or “I am totally awesome for being here.” could work.

Lesson planning for the first month or so (and still after a year to an extent) was very difficult. I consider myself a fairly self-conscious teacher who’s rather sensitive to how effective my lessons can be. When you’re overly-sensitive to how effective a lesson is, you start to become dismissive of every suggestion you hear or read. Japan, one of the most educations countries in the world (usatoday.com) has an educational system revolving around lectures and book work. Not exactly the most compelling classrooms, but students end up learning nonetheless. My point is, no lesson is IMG_1385 - Copy (2)a bad lesson, unless someone dies. If I was capable of understanding “tough love” in the classroom, I would have been so much more comfortable making lesson plans simply because it leaves you with more options when you’re comfortable being a little boring, at times, for the sake of education. The children are the ones who primarily should work while in class, not you. You only facilitate.
VOLUNTEER-TIP®: From my experience, the moment you put your image in front of the source material is when you stop being a teacher. Moans and grunts of displeasure upon learning the assignment WILL BE DAILY occurrences no matter what you do. Instead of thinking how it can be more fun, think of how it can be more educational (which doesn’t always entail ‘fun’). That’s vague, I know, but you got this.

Patience in the classroom will be tested every day, and it can often times seem unbearable. Think back to your own primary school days. Can you remember an instance in which a teacher went bonkers, and raised their voice loud enough to hear it tomorrow morning? Chances are you can remember at least one, and probably multiple times you’ve seen it. Understanding that it happens doesn’t make it acceptable, but it’s important to understand you’ll be tested and tried in the same way those teachers were.
IMG_1283 - CopyVOLUNTEER-TIP®: When all patience seems lost, grab a flashlight and look for said patience under desks and bookshelves. No, seriously. Do that. You’ll probably have to teach your kids the word patience at the beginning of the year, but this is a much better alternative way of showing your kids they’re getting on your nerves a little too much. When you find your patience, don’t forget to tell your kids that is you lose your patience again, you may go CrAzY and give everybody detention next time.

In conclusion, it’s a no-brainer that being a teacher isn’t easy. I would tell my parents before coming that “I expect Honduras to be the hardest year of my life.” but I didn’t really understand how or why or when or for how long or… It was hard. It’s okay to not be okay, but remember it’s not okay to fight in the dark. The people here (like Ms. Dana) will help you in any way you need to dropkick your problem. Teachers love helping teachers.

Still, though, you got this. If I can do it (which I was astonished I could) then you can, too.

Mr Noah, 3rd Grade Teacher.

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Top Cofradia Moments

So the year is all but done.  This is the fourth time I’ve left this place and it never seems to get any easier.  The kids were all asking if I was going to cry again, such is my reputation at this time of year.

As something special comes to an end it’s natural to look back and reminisce.  I’ve been doing a lot of this recently and so thought that for my last blog I’d run through some of my Top Cofradia Moments.  Cutting the list down is difficult and I’m positive that I’ll remember something else after this is posted that I should have included.

So without further ado, here´s five of my favourite  Cofradia memories:

Mother´s Day Concert

Mother’s Day has never been too big in my family (sorry mum) so it surprised me when I arrived here how seriously it’s taken.  Every year the school puts on a Mother’s Day concert and all the mothers of the students get all dolled up and come along.  It’s very much high on the list of the social calendar.  In previous years my students have sang songs from The Beatles to Bruno Mars but this year 10th grade was very ambitious and sang Queen’s Bohemian Rhap19141441_10155350899013965_1608547227_nsody.

I knew from the first practice that it was going to be either a disaster or a triumph and luckily it was definitely the latter.  They all got in to it and I felt like a proud parent watching them belt it out.  It also helped improve their vocabulary, though not sure how often they’ll need to use “scaramouche” or “bismillah” in their speech.

 

THAT football game 

My third graders a few years back had been pestering me to organise a football game with another school in the town.  For an entire week before the game I’d find pieces of scrap paper scribbled with different formations, tactics and predictions all over the classroom. To say the kids were a tad excited is the understatement of the century.

I did my best to tell them how winning wasn’t the most important thing and that they had to show good sportsmanship but if I’m completely honest I couldn’t stop myself getting carried away with them.  The morning of the game there was high fives and fist bumps going on everywhere but the other school took an early lead.

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Watching my little third graders all encouraging each other and digging deep was something really quite emotional to watch and in the dying minutes when the ball bounced off the head one of my least athletic kids to win the game I couldn’t help letting out a few fist pumps of my own.

I can still hear the hysterical, ‘CBS ARE THE BEST’ chants on the walk back to our school.

CBS alumni 

Cofradia the type of town that you pretty much bump in to someone you know every time you leave your house.  This year I bumped in to a former student of CBS who’s now 18.  It’s always nice to catch up with old students and hear all about what they’re doing now.  It turns out that this girl has been offered a scholarship to go  to a university in the USA and leaves to study in August. She was very excited about travelling somewhere new and studying.  She explained to me that without the education she received at CBS and the work of the volunteers, she doesn’t think she would have been able to get an opportunity like this.

After giving so much time here, it was so encouraging to see a real individual story of how the work we do down here does make a concrete difference to people’s lives.

Sailing in Belize

Volunteering in Honduras has given me lots of opportunities to explore and travel during vacations.  Of all these trips, the one that stands out the most has to be the 3 day sailing trip in Belize.

A few years back me and another volunteer hopped on a few chicken buses and boats and ended up on Caye Caulker in Belize (if you imagine a stereotypical Caribbean island and then imagine the ocean being a little more blue and life a little slower-paced you’re almost there.) From there we took a sailing trip down the coast back towards Honduras. The days were spent snorkelling with turtles and spear fishing and the nights were spent camping on tiny islands and grilling our days catch.19075414_10155350898853965_613455091_n

I came to Honduras for the school, I stayed for the grilled lobster!

Surprise party      

The first time I left Honduras I was picked up at my house by one of my students’ families on my last day and taken to a restaurant where the entire class was waiting to surprise me. I’d been so upset and down about leaving and so the party really helped cheer me up before I had to leave.  There was lots of cake and they’d all been practicing some songs to sing for me which was just the cutest thing.

Leaving is always hard but when you get memories like this to take with you it’s that little bit easier.  I’m already excited for the new highlights the next time I come back.

Mr James, Serial Volunteer