Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If You Wanted Things To Be The Same As The States, You Should Have Stayed In The States.

OLM is an educational environment that I have never experienced before. I think I got a little taste of it while teaching in Costa Rica, but I don't think that I was there long enough to understand the in's and out's of everything.

After being at OLM for four weeks, I finally have a grasp about how things work there as opposed to any other school that I have been at. I don't think that anything at OLD is bad, I just think that a lot of things are different from what I am used to. Again, not bad, just different. In fact, I think that I like the environment here better than the school I have been in in the States.

The copy room at OLM is manned by one individual. You hand him the things that you need copied along with a count and a due date. Then he copies them and returns them to you. This is also where you go if you need markers, erasers, construction paper, things laminated, whatever. You fill out a request form and then he gets it for you. I need hard-boiled eggs for my lesson this week, so I requested that the school buys it for me. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. I'm used to going up to the IRC laminating what I need, copying what I need, grabbing extra markers if I need them. Having the copy room definitely makes me more resourceful in my lesson. It also makes me plan ahead because I have to have worksheets and lessons ready well in advance.

As far as being resourceful goes, I never realized how much I relied on having 24 hour access to a computer and printer before coming here. I have my laptop, but I don't have my own printer. We are able to print to the office, but I don't want to be printing 19 copies of various activites as well as all my paperwork for Ashland every day. Because of this, I've started creating a lot of things by hand. I may go back to the States an artist. I've created hundreds of medallions due to the behavior chart, I traced, cut out, and assembled 20 flowers for a science units, I've drawn many English posters. It's time consuming and tedious, but way more rewarding than just having print-outs to give the students. I don't want to be limited in my activities due to my resources, so I have found that I am way more resourceful in what I use. In the States I would automatically go to my computer to create something, but now I am finding that I almost enjoy creating my own manipulatives instead.

Not only are the avaliablity of resources and the copy room big changes for me, but the students themselves are different from any students I have ever had. First of all, they are Brazilian. English isn't their first language. Second of all, there's a huge economic difference between the students at OLM and the students that I taught at Mansfield or Crestview.

At the core, kids are kids. There are many things that are the same. But at the same time, these students have been given a lot more opportunites than I had while growing up or of any students I have had before. The majority of these students have traveled to the United States and a large handful have traveled to Europe. I have three or four students in my class grew up in a different country and then moved to Brazil.

The classroom management in my current classroom is a lot more relaxed than any classroom that I have been in before. The students are wild because they are first graders, not because they have poor behavior. They love their friends and they love to talk. I definitely have to think out of the box to keep them engaged long enough to finish a lesson and share important information. Which is awesome, but also exhausting.

It's easy for me to start to feel fed up in my classroom. Fed up that I don't have the resources avaliable that I'm used to, fed up that I can't be lazy and just print out activities, fed up that the students are draining my engery and aren't paying attention to what I am saying.

But then I realize that this is the reason that I am in Brazil. I'm in Brazil to be challenged. If it was easy, I shouldn't be a teacher. If it was easy, it wouldn't be helping me grow. If it was easy, I am wasting my time. Not having the resources at my disposal is helping me become more creative and hands-on with my teaching. Having to plan ahead for copies forces me to not be a procrastinator. Teaching a class full of energetic six and seven year olds has pushed me to plan more engaging and entertaining lessons as well as attention grabbers that work for them.

Then I realize something else. Yes, this is hard for me. Yes, I experienced some culture shock and have noticed differences between a Brazilian classroom and one in the States. But at the same time it is just as difficult for my students. A new person who doesn't speak Portuguese and has a funny English accent is in their classroom. This new person is expecting them to do more and act differenly than their Brazilian teacher. The expectations that I have for them are different than their own teachers have had in the past. It IS hard for me to be here. It IS hard to be working in a classroom full of English Language Learners. But it is equally difficult for them to have me here.

I cannot sit here and put all the blame on my class. I cannot sit here and say that I am the one who is right and they are the ones who are wrong. I entered THEIR country and came into THEIR classroom. We are al learning. The students are learning from me and I from them. It's not easy for any of us, we all get frustrated with each other from time to time. But we are all learning so much about each other and other cultures as well as the educational content. Yes, it is difficult, but I there's no place that I would rather be than here.


  1. Who knew you were so insightful and creative? Surely not I! And the last line of your blog, is the title of my latest blog... I'm proud of us for making such good decisions about our future. XOXOXOXOXOXOXO :-)

  2. I was about to say how insightful you are, but Karen said it first... and I hope this works because every time I write something it never works. Anyway, Miss you Bunches! -Brit