Friday, April 3, 2009

Week Two In Review

I'm feeling well rested today as we didn't have school. The reason being, the students at San Pedro High School were competing in a track competition on the mainland. It takes five teachers to take all of those students to the competition. So, with all of those teachers absent and no substitute teachers, the school wouldn't be able to function. It was nice to have a day off. I had forgotten how stressful teaching can be.

I took this day to work on some projects for school since I realized I was falling behind on my graduation requirements and I don't think my parents would like to pay for another semester of grad school. Having completed a lot of work, I think I can spend some time resting and relaxing as we travel to the mainland tomorrow. I'm terribly excited because my girlfriend, Allison, joins me tomorrow. She is a teacher at New Hanover High School in Wilmington and she is spending her spring break with me. Most of the people here are jealous that I get to see her because at this point everyone, including me, our missing our significant others. I'm lucky enough to see her and I can't wait.

I thought I would take some time to reflect on week two of teaching in Belize. This was another fun week at San Pedro High. I continually see my teaching changing and moulding to the needs of a different population of students. On Thursday I learned an important lesson about teaching students who don't speak English. As I was having students break into groups to practice there phone dialogues I noticed that one girl didn't go with her group. When I asked her why she wasn't working, I realized she struggled to give me a response. She speaks only Spanish and didn't understand my directions. I gave her the directions in Spanish, but realized that the people I put her with didn't speak Spanish, so she couldn't work with them. When Miss Usher realized what I did, she rectified the situation by setting her up with a Spanish-speaking student who would work with her. Had I thought on my feet, I probably would have asked the class who speaks Spanish, but at that moment I hadn't even thought about it. This was a good lesson for me. I'm sure I'll be better prepared with an ESL student next time.

Miss Usher continued to educate me later in that class. I started to give students I quick run-down of subject-verb agreement. I was going to lecture for about five minutes and then let them practice it in their workbook. During the middle of my lecture, Miss Usher got up and asked me if I wouldn't mind if she showed me another way of teaching this lesson. I didn't mind, I'd argue that learning a different way to teach is the reason why I'm on this trip. Miss Usher took the chalk and started drawing pictures and showing how a boy named Armando played by himself, which makes it plural. She then drew a picture of a girl named Korina and she is in love with Romundo "who all the girls want to be with because he is so dreamy." She showed that when they fall in love, together they make a plural situation. The students were laughing and getting involved and really understanding the concept being taught. After class, Miss Usher explained to me that the pictures are particularly important for the Spanish-speaking student because, while she might not understand words and letters, drawings are universal and it helps her translate what she is saying in English, into Spanish. It was at this time that I remembered one of my colleagues, Julie Lucier, give a similar presentation in graduate school. This puts her research into practice and showed me that indeed this is a strategy that is used, and apparently works. This was an educational day for me.

The rest of my week was fun as well. I really enjoyed rapping for the classes and creating the ant observatory. It was exciting for me to see all of these students working together to create this formicarium together. It also showed me how interesting students can be when they get out of their seats and work on something different from what they are accustomed to. I think too often teachers think inside the box, myself included, and if we were willing to take some risks, we might find new ways to inspire teachers to learn.

It became clear to us that Easter is a big deal on this island, as we have the next two weeks off. We didn't realize this when this internship was established and scheduled, but it gives us a good opportunity to see other parts of Belize. This next week we are going to the mainland of Belize. Tomorrow we get on a boat at 9:30 am which will take us to Belize City. After I pick up Allison from the airport, we will go to the Belize Zoo, and from there we will stay one night at Caves Branch. This is a cool place because it has some of the more adventurous activities we are looking forward to, like cave tubing, repelling, and zip lining. While I'd like to do all of these, they are a bit pricy, so I'll have to pick one adventure to go on. After a day at Caves Branch, we will be traveling to San Ignacio. We will be staying here for roughly four days because from here we can travel across the island to do all of the other sight-seeing and touristy stuff. I'm hoping to see the Mayan ruins in Lamanai, the old British prison, go to a jaguar preserve, travel to the Blue Hole for some snorkeling, and do a lot of fancy dining. After our time in San Ignacio, we will be traveling to Corozal, which is a quiet town on the northern tip of the mainland. The reason for us traveling here is that most of the people who work at the high school are from Corozal, so we're thinking we might be able to do a lot of free, local things with our new friends. That should be a nice way to end this crazy week of traveling.

For our second week, we have decided to take some time to give back to the community. Last night I was up until 10 pm helping to build a porch for the lunch lady, Miss Dulce, at her house. She hopes to turn her porch into a store front for her food shack. When asked why they were helping her, Gustavo said, "That's just what we do." They are all doing this out of the goodness of their own heart. After working a full day at school, some teachers have decided to give their time to help this lady with her business. I think this is great. While we are on our break, we will be looking for jobs such as this to give back to this community.

I hope everyone has continued to enjoy my blog this week. I was so happy to see all of the comments on my blog this week, particularly from all of my students. Whenever I see the students here in Belize, I'm reminded of the short amount of time I had at Laney and I miss them. They were a good bunch to teach and I was fortunate to have them as my first classes. They say you'll never forget the first class you taught and I'm sure that is the case with me.

I don't think I will be bringing my laptop for the next week, so I apologize if I don't get an opportunity to blog at all. I'll fill you in as I can. 

Take care everyone,



  1. yo mr.f got a 92 on midterm.(zack dasilva)
    whats good Mr.fass you wack oh yeah GO EAGLES (john)hay i like your blogs we really miss you hope you can come back to laney and teach us again i had a very good experience with you here i also want you to hear more of what i figured out how to play on the guitar i learned some nice melodies to play alot are classical and some are not i hope we see you soon(austin)

  2. Mr. Fassbender,
    The seniors are a little behind, but I wanted them to have a chance to send you a note. See you soon -PP

    Mr. Fassbeender this your boy big Ant just wanted to say hey and all your blogs are a little funny lol have fun my dude 3 minus 2.

    Hey fry,
    whats up your better then me cause i hate being hot. But whateva instead of a teacher you should be a writer cause u write ALOT but at least its nt boring. Have fun as u finish ur internship
    sha'kima hatcher

    heyyy fry,
    its ashley davis. glad to hear your having such a great time in belize. i really have enjoyed reading your blogs. come back to visit us very soon. we all miss you very much! take care and have a safe trip home whenever that may be!