Wow!! Today was another busy day, filled with excitement! After our four hour Spanish class, we walked to the University and divided into groups. I was in a group with Jameelat and Dr. Schmidt. We were led by a faculty member and a student from the University, who showed us how to get to our placement school. I was so appreciative of the student and the faculty who showed us where to go. They were so understanding and patient with us. Our schedule was so full, that we had to pack a lunch and eat it on our way!
One "culture shock" that I have been experiencing is the subway. Yes, I have taken the subway in Buffalo, but this is entirely different! I felt uncomfortable being so close with other people, but this is such a common mode of transportation in Chile.
When we arrived at the elementary school in Santiago, it was nothing like I have ever seen before! I was placed in a classroom that would not be typical in the United States. Instead of keeping track of all of the students in the classroom, the students went and acted as they wanted. I witnessed students leaving their seat, standing on desks, and shouting across the room. Aside from this behavior, these children were absolute sweethearts! I wish I knew enough Spanish to talk with them. Most of the students were trying to ask me questions, but I did not know how to respond.
I was informed that the students that were in this class were orphans, had troubling family situations, and/or had behavioral needs. This saddened me because 1) Their backgrounds were upsetting. 2) There were way too many students in the classroom. 3) The students were so eager to learn from us Americans, but were underestimated by their teacher. 4) The students did not obey to their teacher (I was not sure if the teacher knew about strategies to manage a classroom).
In the United States, a classroom like the one I observed would only have about 6 students (6:1:1 classroom). This classroom had about 30 students and not all of the students spoke Spanish.
As a teacher candidate, this makes me want to reflect on the importance of classroom management. The teacher at this school did not have the knowledge to get the students attention. In my opinion, it did not seem like a priority to teach these children at all. It was almost as if these children were "leftover" from the rest. This made me feel sad. However, it is important to say that when I walked in that classroom, I felt like a celebrity! Groups of students crowded around me, wanting to know all about me and my culture.
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After the school experience, I had the opportunity to learn how to salsa dance. At first, I was not going to attend because I was too embarrassed to dance in front of everyone. I thought about it more and realized, "I'm in Chile and I am going to give it a try!" Well, it turns out that I actually liked salsa dancing even though I did not think I would.. I had so much fun! Look at the smile on my face!
Thanks for following my blog! I'm beyond thankful for having the opportunity to be in Chile! I love it here!