Friday, April 19, 2013

My Precious Babies.

We've been blessed to have some student teachers down from Canada for these past three weeks. Miss Hannah has been working with Grades 1 and 2, and while I'm sure it's been a huge challenge, the students have really enjoyed learning with her (and not having to listen to me run my mouth all the time) and I have really appreciated having her in our classroom.

With time I've gotten used to the strong personalities of my Grade Ones and the challenges that come with teaching them. I've accepted the fact that my Grade Twos aren't at the same level of English speaking and comprehension of classes I taught in while in the States. I've grown and been challenged right alongside of all 47 of my crazy students.

But it wasn't always this way. I didn't always have this understanding and background knowledge. Parcial One was comprised of many tear-filled nights and conversations that included "Why did I come here? These students are too difficult. I don't know how to handle them. I want to go home." I felt a lot of hopeless and despair at the beginning of the school year because the students were so much more than anything I had ever been exposed to before. That is kind of where some of the student teachers find themselves these days. When you are in that stage it is so easy to feel discouraged or alone and to make comments about how difficult the students are or how under-prepared you are as a teacher. I know, I lived in that stage for a really long time.

While I initially took these comments made out of frustration very personally, I quickly realized how positive of an interaction it actually was. My gut instinct when hearing these comments was to fight for my students. To protect them. To vouch for the progress they have made and to point out the strengths of each one of them as an individual.

And through all this I realized how much I genuinely love and care for each one of the chatty, vibrant Hondurans who walk through my door each day. I wanted everyone else to love them and care about them as much as I do. I wanted everyone else to see their successes. It can be so easy for me to get caught up in the day to day. To focus solely on the lesson plans and not the learners. To harp on the disobedience and defiance as opposed to the growth and optimism. It was only when I heard someone else focusing on the negative when I realized how much positive exists in my "normal" with these children.

While I was quick to anger when hearing comments made about my classes (despite the fact that I knew exactly where these comments were coming from and why they were being said), it was exactly what I needed to be reminded why I am here. To love on my students. To share my love of learning with them. To teach them Biblical principles and to provide them with a safe place to come each day. They are my babies and I love each and every one of them. They are the reason that I am teaching here in Honduras.

Not only has having the student teacher here really reminded me of how much I love and care about my students, but it has caused me to reflect a lot on the growth that my students have all shown throughout the year. As with anything or anyone that you spend a lot of time with, it can be hard to see growth. It can be hard to see the day to day changes that quickly add up to monumental advances. I can so easily forget where we all started the year. In defending my students' behavior as well as academic performance, I realize how far we have actually come. Grade Two speaks almost exclusively in English, Grade One hasn't had anyone climbing on the windows in weeks. I can't remember the last time that someone was stabbed with a pencil and Spelling Exams are completed in (almost) complete silence. My reality in the classroom today is a complete 180 from what it was back in August.

I am so, so proud of my students. They have grown and improved so much in all aspects of their life, not just in their academics. They have taught me more than I have taught them this school.  There is not doubt that they are crazy, rambunctious, and yes, exhausting. But they are mine. My precious babies.

So while the students will be thanking Miss Hannah for her help with writing friendly letters and teaching them about the life cycle of butterflies, I am going to be thanking her for the most important lesson she taught while she was here. The one that came without a lesson plan. The lesson that showed me how much I love my students, that confirmed that I am meant to be teaching here at this school, that reminded me of the progress we have all made since August.

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