Monday, March 23, 2009

My First Day Teaching at San Pedro

Whew! What a day. So today was my first day teaching at San Pedro High School. My cohort and I got to the school around 7:25 am today to begin the school day. Today was my first day teaching classes, while my colleagues in the science department were observing. To the left is an image of the front of San Pedro High School.

For my first day, I was partnered with Miss Kristina Romero. For our lesson today, she was working on listening comprehension using the short story "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. Miss Romero gave me a broad overview of what she had planned to do today; my responsibility was to tweak it and make it a lesson I wanted to teach. For those unfamiliar with the story, "The Lottery," it is the story of a village that has a lottery to see who will be killed for the annual sacrifice to appease the gods for the upcoming crop season by stoning the "winner" of the lottery to death. As a result, I thought I would a lottery in the beginning of class, and after reading the story, see what the reaction was of the student who won the lottery. They had a good time with the activity and students laughed when they realized they won the lottery. Of course, in lew of throwing stones at the students, I gave the winner a candy bar.

The classes in which I taught this lesson were three Form Two classes (sophomores). This was the age group I taught at Laney, and I noticed that there weren't too many differences. I had to read the story in class, because Miss Romero explained to me that students wouldn't go home and read it for assignment (aka homework). I was pleased with how attentive students were. It became apparent to me that, while maybe the information isn't new or any more exciting when I present it, the mere fact that a different voice with an American accent was in the classroom captured their attention. While they don't have "honors" and "on-level" students here, there are huge gaps between the engagement in certain classes. While one class could be very conversational, another would struggle to answer any questions. It was fascinating.

During lunch, we were served the fish we had caught on Saturday. Gustav's wife came in and fried the snapper for us and the teachers and put a spicy habanero, onion sauce over the whole fish and served it with sauteed onions and squash. This was a delicious treat for lunch. Just as a side note, my most interesting meals have probably come at the school. On the first day, I had cow foot soup with tripe. I've never really eaten the organs of a cow before, but it was delicious. On another day, we had dirty rice with fish fingers, which I suppose is the closest thing to chicken fingers and french fries that I have seen. I'm doing my best to hone my culinary pallet during this trip. I don't know if Taco Bell will ever please me after experiencing some of the gastronomical adventures we have experienced in Belize.

After school, we had a staff meeting. It was astonishing how similar the hot button topics were at the meeting as compared to those at staff meetings in North Carolina. They were arguing about school dress codes and attendance policies, something we struggle with everyday in the States. While everyone had an opinion, no solutions were presented and no decisions were made. It was frustrating to sit there and listen to some of the arguments because they were all too familiar.

After the staff meeting, we had to hurry back to our hostel because we were being interviewed by the San Pedro Sun Times. They were excited about us being here and it was obvious that the newspaper was familiar with Wilmington and recognized us as members of their sister city in the States. I would be interested to see how many people in Wilmington know that we have a diplomatic partnership with the country of Belize. I have a feeling the answer would be very few. Overall, I feel that they really appreciate us being here in Belize because this is one of the few connections Wilmington has been able to make since we developed this relationship in 2007.

Alright, I need to be off to get some sleep tonight. It is late and I need to prepare for a lesson on animal cruelty (how that is connected to language arts, I couldn't tell ya), so I'll let you know how it goes in my next blog. Until then,


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