And so begins the new school year. It seems like just last week that I was sitting on a bench in the Hebron Gospel Chapel during the Opening Ceremony to the 2011-2012 school year at EHSM. I cannot believe an entire year has passed by so quickly and I am starting my last school year in St. Vincent. I feel like I have just gotten adjusted to life here, and accustomed to the way school operates here to actually be an effective volunteer/teacher.
It was so nice to see all the students. I am extremely proud of the students I worked directly with who have been promoted to Form 2 and Form 3. I am happy to see the students that I did not work directly with but were my enthusiastic helpers/book borrowers in the new Annex library. I am looking forward to another rewarding school year.
True to Peace Corps fashion, my ability to be flexible and creative will surely be tested this school year. The school year is starting out a little hectic, as we are short a few teachers, so teachers and staff must pick up the slack. This means in addition to the teachers teaching more subjects and more classes, the principal, and secretary will also be teaching, oh and the Peace Corps volunteer. My capacity at the school consists of assisting the Literacy Coordinator in providing extra help to students who are below their grade levels in reading. I generally work with students in small groups by pulling them from class to focus on their reading/comprehension skills. Additionally, I facilitated the unofficial re-opening and operation of the Annex Library by acquiring books from Hands Across the Sea and the International Alliance for Child Literacy and promoting a love for reading by exposing the students to books.
However, this year may be a little different, at least for a while anyways. I will be filling in as the 5th Form Chemistry and Physics teacher until a replacement is found. If I must be honest, I kind of don’t want a replacement teacher to come. I am really excited to be teaching chemistry and physics. But also a little nervous. So why must I be flexible and creative you ask? If you remember a previous post, If You Believe In Love, I stated my frustrations about my role at the school. As a remedial reading teacher, I have complete control over the classroom, as there are only 4 students. But, on the other hand, I have no background in literacy and frankly no passion for teaching reading. I find it difficult for me to be enthusiastic about it. And I find it even more difficult to be comfortable (read: competent) teaching reading. Who knew that just because you know how to read, doesn’t mean you can teach some one else to read. Then, when I was teaching math in Form 3 while a teacher was on maternity leave, I felt passionate, competent, and excited to be responsible for an entire class. I loved being in the classroom, and getting the students excited about math, as well as Life Skills which I would teach during my math classes on “Skills for Success” Fridays, but it was extremely difficult to gain the respect of the students as well as control the classroom.
The need for flexibility and creativity comes in that, I have no guide to go by and really no direction as to what the future holds this school year. While I love chemistry and physics (my all time favorite subjects), I still feel unsure about my teaching abilities-I have never taught chemistry or physics, and it’s been a while since I have really used that side of my brain. I will need to be creative in designing lesson plans, experiments that engage and excite the students, especially since I have no curriculum to follow. I will need to be flexible in teaching whatever subject is asked of me for how ever long, until the appropriate teachers are placed by the Ministry of Education.
Overall, I am more excited than nervous for this school year. Sure I have no idea where to begin or where I am going, but it doesn’t matter. Half the fun is figuring it out, and that seems to be the theme about Peace Corps, after all. In the mean time, as Theodore Roosevelt said, I will do what I can, with what I have, where I am. All I know, is it really helps to be passionate about the work you do. Otherwise, the quality of work you produce is subpar and sometimes not worth doing. Dad, it only took me 25 years to realize that what you have told me from day one about choosing a career (do what you love, so that it becomes more of a hobby that you get paid to do than a job) is true. I am looking forward to instilling in these students a desire to ask questions and inquire, problem solve, think critically, realize their potential, set goals, and dream. It’s important to me that I must be creative in incorporating Life Skills into my science lessons.
The show goes on whether I'm ready or not.