The USB that provides the internet went MIA for a couple of days but we have access again. The last day of community classes consisted of the completion of “The Alligator River Story” for the advanced class and an introduction to the home in the beginning class. The teacher training session began with the completion of the literature unit and was followed by “The Alligator River Story” which acted as a model of an activity to encourage meaningful interaction in the language classroom. Saturday, we went swimming at a hotel and it was really relaxing. Yesterday, we presented the teachers with their certificates and took some photos. The teachers, Gregory, and Pere Noe made some speeches and the teachers presented Pere Noe with a certificate for his dedication to teacher education. Today, we are meeting with the new sixth grade teacher to share our lesson plans with her and then will meet with some highly motivated students to practice English conversation. The electricity and water have been on and off for a couple of days but everything is in working order at this moment. The end of the year exams for the school began today; students spent this morning taking a four hour mathematics exam! Students begin taking the national exams on 12 June. Tomorrow, we are heading to Cape Haitian! We’re very excited to see the beach!
The final exams for the school begin Monday so the students are busy studying for them. As a result, the community language classes had much lower attendance today. The beginning class had about twelve students and the advanced class had about ten. The beginning class reviewed introductions and the advanced class read “The Alligator River.” After reading and going over the story, the students individually ranked the characters. Tomorrow, they will debate and develop a ranking in groups. The students seemed to understand the story, though we had to go over some difficult vocabulary. They also appeared to have some strong opinions so I think tomorrow’s class will be very interesting.
The teacher training began with a discussion about music as it related to the teachers personally. The teachers were then equipped with example songs and activities for utilizing music in the classroom. Following this, they further practiced writing SWBATs and lesson plans by writing one that used music. The teachers seemed to enjoy the prospect of using music to teach English and it appeared to be a fairly new idea as all but one said they had never used music in class before. Afterwards, we introduced them to Content Based Instruction (CBI) and modeled it through a culturally relevant literature activity.
Tomorrow we will wrap up the literature activity and model various activities that the teachers can use in their classes. The electricity and water have been on and off all day but they are working right now. It has been lightening and thundering for a couple of hours which has been really nice. It has only been sprinkling but has cooled down significantly.
Hi everyone! We are 3 days into our 5 day teacher training session!
On day 1 (Monday), we covered the following topics with our teachers:
1. The importance of keeping a teaching journal for reflection and professional development
2. CLT-Communicative Language Teaching
We also had our first day of community language lessons, we mostly worked with beginners and taught them how to introduce themselves and say basic information about themselves.
On day 2 of teacher training, we worked on lesson planning and SWBATs (Students Will Be Able To). SWBATs are basically the goals or objectives of the lesson.
For Day 2 of community language classes, we split the students into 3 levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. After reflecting, we decided to only split them into 2 levels : beginner and advanced for day 3.
For Day 3 of the teacher training, we worked a bit more on lesson planning and SWBATs. We also showed the teachers how to use books like the Oxford Picture Dictionary and the other books we brought. We showed teachers the variety of activities they can do with just one book. At the end of our session, we worked on pronunciation.
For Day 4, we will concentrate on teaching through music and CBI (Content Based Instruction!)
It’s very very very hot here but today we got a very nice thunderstorm and even a beautiful rainbow!
We all slept like logs last night and got up and ready just in time to visit some homeroom classes. The teachers were very welcoming and the kids were intrigued by the new “blancs” in town.
After homeroom we had watched the kids sing the national anthem and sat down for a typical breakfast-spaghetti. Yep, spaghetti. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the morning: as we were polishing off our plates, Noe came in to let us know what we would be doing that morning: teaching the 3rd grade. No, not observing-teaching. The four of us slowly walked into the classroom full of thirty 12 year olds, collectively trying to pull an English lesson together with the three minutes of prep time and the pieces of chalk we had. Slowly but surely, our teacher juices started flowing and we had the kids talking, singing, and drawing pictures in their notebooks. I am not sure how much English they learned, but I am sure they had a great time.
Little did we know, out improvisation for the day was just beginning. Next up, the head English teacher, Evans, asked us to co-teach his 10th and 11th grade lessons with him. This time we didn’t skip a beat-we came up with some conversations to practice and dove straight in.
After a long morning in intense heat we all needed a rest. We did some relaxing and reading and once the heat broke Evans came back to give us a walking tour of Hinche. Everyone was out in the street enjoying the cool air. Hinche is most definitely a tight knit community-we met a handful of Evans’s cousins and about a dozen of his friends on the first lap around the block. The problems in Hinche are visible: dirty streets, dilapidated houses, and starving dogs, but the strength of community spirit and togetherness was also plain to see.
I was struck particularly by Evans intense appreciation for what he has been able to achieve through English. He is one of twelve siblings who decided to move out of his home and rent a small room to relieve some burden on his family. When speaking about his potential opportunity to go to the United States and live there, he told us ever so earnestly that for him that just didn’t make any sense. He told us that despite the poverty in his country he is grateful for the work and projects he has in motion. He made us understand that trading in the freedom and opportunity English has given him in Haiti, albeit small in some people’s eyes, for a life of less freedom and more commodity was a sacrifice he was not willing to make.
Tonight’s background music was a bit more upbeat than last nights: the high school kids are having a dance party in the patio of the school to relax and decompress before final exams start next week. The heat is oppressive and the wind is more scarce, but we are more settled in tonight, more used to our mosquito net canopies and cold showers. We are all sure this won’t be an easy two weeks, but its seeming we are up to the challenge.
The journey was nothing quick or efficient from Monterey to Hinche Wednesday and Thursday. First a two hour car ride to SFO, then a six hour flight to Ft. Lauderdale followed by a seven hour lay-over that gave us the unique opportunity to get well acquainted with the airport floor outside security as we got some restless sleep.
But then the long part was over. We had out first introduction to Haiti and its people on the packed-full two hour flight from Florida to Port-au-Prince. The crowd was lively and energetic (especially for 6am) and ti was clear they were all elated to be heading back home.
As we got off the plane a six piece Haitian band greeted us and we breezed through customs to await our bags and our host, Father Noe Bernier. Noe was waiting for us with smiles and hugs and after a quick car wash and engine check, we headed to Hinche.
Along the way we got our introduction to the Haitian landscape, got to know a few Haitian goats, gave a pint-sized hitch hiker a ride home from school, saw the famous Partners In Health Hospital in Cange, and visited the electric plant that provides electricity to the whole central plateau-all before lunch time.
In just a day here at St. Andre’s we have met a lively cast of characters. There is Lacroix, whose friendly demeanor and boyish features become ironic when we find out he is in charge of discipline at the school. Then there is the woman in charge of the small store outside the gates of the school who reigns from her cooler greeting the passersby and serving her costumers ice cold waters, sodas, and beers. Finally, we met Blanc, whose albinism deceived us, causing confusion as I greeted him with a “hello how are you?”. He was not phased though, and hurried off on his moto to exchange our American dollars for Haitian ones.
Dinner was a feast of rice with spicy sauce, Haitian potato casserole, baked chicken and fresh juice. A home cooked meal was just what the doctor ordered after such a long trip.
Now its time to rest. The mix of choir practice and the motos passing in the street is draped in the sound of rain fall, and I am finally feeling myself relax.
Tomorrow starts the work: classroom observations, teacher meetings and more introductions-stay tuned!