As an Education and Spanish double major, my study abroad experience consisted of taking classes and learning from the culture, as well as a teaching internship! It was spring of my Sophomore year, 19 and then 20 years old, when I lived in Cuenca, Ecuador, South America.
This was a pivotal point in my studies that provided my first teaching experience. I would like to share with you the main aspects of this teaching gig as a means to start off my life of an education major blog.
March 19, 2012-May 4, 2012; about two months; thirty-five days; with a couple days off; four hours per day; eight classes; seven grades; each class twice a week; 45 minute class teaching segments plus teacher meetings; is this making sense…?
So basically, for two months, I taught English part time (4 hrs/day) at Escuela Aurelio Ochoa. I had 8 classes to teach in all, but I taught 3-4 classes each day. I was also taking Spanish Literature classes-every evening, 16 credits that semester-while learning from the culture, my host family and close friends.
I was thrown into this teaching experience, and it was beautiful.
With my US American teaching process mindset, I imagined the first couple weeks, or at least the first day, to include observation. I had never teacher aided, observed, or really spent much time in US classrooms, and never in Ecuador. I found quickly, my mistaken self, with no lesson plans, teaching a classroom full of squirmy first-graders, who had never before learned English and unlikely ever been spoken to in English. So this was a new and cultural experience for us all.
Surprisingly, it went really well. I am forever thankful of that experience. I could have been upset that they didn’t warn me, I could have been thrown so off guard that I would not have taught, I could have failed. But the Lord carried me through my first successful teaching experience: three full lessons, unplanned, but well delivered and well received. I did have the gringa card for my imperfections, but I didn’t want to pull that anyway.
I loved teaching there. Those kids were beautiful and loving. They loved me and cared for me. They pursued me and talked with me. They learned from me, but I learned from them.
The school was deemed rural. I lived in Cuenca, and the school was in Turi. When I say it was in Turi, it was separated by one street, from the city of Cuenca. When I say it was deemed rural, it was evident by the government’s lack of support.
The school was under resourced. The city schools have English teachers and English books. Escuela Aurelio Ochoa had no English resources. I taught there with no Englsih books, no English work books, no English teacher nor supervisor, and no one who spoke English. I often felt on my own, but the students kept me teaching.
The students were engaged. They wanted to learn. They wanted to hear English, and they wanted to see what English could do for them. Many of them have family members living in the United States, and others have dreams that include the learning of, or communicating in, English. Some of them may have not thought about what learning another language could do in their life, but they were still engaged and excited to learn.
That is a tidbit of my life as a teacher in Ecuador.