Our days have been filled with adventure, enlightenment, new experiences, delicious food and breathtaking views!
Our time in the schools has been incredible. Both Wednesday and Thursday, we visited Colegio Maestra Elsa Santibañez, located south of Santiago. Schools in Chile allow students free time every couple of hours – complete free time. The children are able to run around in the courtyard, play games (tag, sports, etc.), have fun with one another and take a break from sitting in their classroom all day. We arrived at the school on Wednesday during their afternoon recess, which was perfect timing! We walked through the courtyard, which was filled with students of all ages, after being welcomed in by teachers and administration. The children were thrilled to have some visitors, especially from the United States! We were swarmed by dozens of students, who were trying their hardest to speak to us in English. They were excited to find out that we do speak a little Spanish, too! They gave us hugs, asked us endless questions, posed with us for photos and just loved that we came all the way from New York to visit them.
My heart was overflowing.
We popped into a Kindergarten classroom for a few minutes before heading to the 7th grade classroom, where five of us spent the afternoon with 32 students. The teacher provided some time for us to do a lesson with the students, and Rachel jumped right in with hers! The four of us supported her thoughtful and successful lesson – the students loved it, especially the postcard activity. We observed for the remainder of the time, and we were lucky enough to be in their classroom for their English lesson. They planned an imaginary party to practice their English (describe who they would invite, what food would be there, what time, etc.). It was wonderful to use some of my Spanish to help them with their English!
We returned again yesterday (Thursday), and I was able to visit a 4th grade classroom. I was also lucky enough to use one of my own lessons! I demonstrated an interactive read aloud for the teacher, to which the students responded very well. The read aloud was followed by a whole-class game (Memory). The book was about counting, so I laminated cards with numbers and number words for the students to match up. I gave the book and the cards to the teacher following my lesson, in hopes that she will be able to use them in her classroom in the future. Many educators in Chile are concerned with the lack of materials they have to use in their classrooms, especially books, so I was happy to give these to her. I enjoyed simultaneously observing her as well during our time in her classroom. She utilized song to engage the students, which is very useful in teaching. Though this would be functional anywhere in the world, teachers in Chile, for example, may rely on activities such as singing due to their lack of physical materials. This class has a daily routine of introducing the date & weather, as well as practicing days of the week and emotions – all in English! The students seemed to enjoy this time, and it is great practice for their English. I will definitely incorporate song into my teaching in the future.