Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pedagogy and potential best friendships.

Hurray Hurray. So I left you all at the dining room table on the night of Monday the 27th, eating delicious chicken broth soup (with rice and garbanzo beans and a hint of lime juice... p.s. Mexico is making limes an absolute requirement for my life I think). This morning I awoke from some crazy dreams involving an attempt to get onto some sort of Haverford team that focused on being funny. But in like a really organized way. Whatever I was really stressed about it, which made me less funny and therefore hurt my chances, but then when I tearfully explained to the team that I was nervous and felt like they weren't listening to me, it evolved into this big tearful heart to heart between everyone, with like really big hugs from people I've never actually talked to at Haverford, but were totally in this club thing. Also, we then went to play around in one of those big pits full of plastic balls that they have at places like Chuck E. Cheese, and while lolling around in there I wrote no less than three really awesome songs, that of course I couldn't remember when I woke up. Slash I think this actually happened on Monday morning. But anyway. Isn't that weird? Slash just goes to show, open and honest communication is usually the best bet. HA.

Okay, so that was a digression. Whoops. So this morning I had several things on the table: 1) Finish blog entry #16. 2) Write post cards (still has totally not happened). 3) Work on my lesson plan for Barrio. 4) E-mail important people (whoops. failing). 5) Check-in with Hayley. 6) Meet William at the Museo de antropología a las 2. WOW. Okay, so I went downstairs and Sasha had exactly as many oatmeal pancakes left over as I wanted, which was great. I chatted with Hayley, picked up the key to the azotea (roof, my new favorite spot) and settled into lesson planning. So where I left off last time: general rules I try to tell the kids each time. Basically I spent some time today trying to create worksheets and think through how to make them both helpful and relevant. Señor Ramsey is totally my model, as the absolute best Spanish teacher I've ever had. In normal class I pretty much don't approve of worksheets as they can so easily devolve into busywork that the teacher hasn't thought through very carefully, but for learning Spanish they were totally the perfect learning tool for me. Señor Ramsey literally never spoke in English, but each time we learned a new rule, it was explained in English on the worksheet, and he had one of us read it aloud. Then we practiced the rule a million times, and in different ways, until it sunk in and became part of our body of Spanish knowledge. I'm also pretty sure that he introduced new verb tenses into his daily speech as we learned them - but not before. How ridiculous is that?

Anyway, so I'm trying to be him, in some ways, essentially. So that was really fun today - practicing numbers and colors and more vocabulario all in one. And these rules that are so important:

1)   En inglés, muchas letras tienen sonidos diferentes que en el español.
a.     Por ejemplo, en inglés la letra “i” suena como “ay,” no como la letra “i” en español.

2)   En inglés, las palabras no se pronuncian exactamente como se escriben.
a.     Por ejemplo, la palabra “nine” se pronuncia “n-ay-n,” NO “ni-ne.”

3)   En inglés, el adjetivo siempre viene antes del sustantivo.
a.     Un sustantivo es un lugar, una persona, o un objeto.
b.     Un adjetivo describe un sustantivo.
c.      En español, se dice “Hay un gato pequeño.” El sustantivo aparece ANTES del adjetivo. Pero en inglés, se dice “There is a small cat.” El sustantivo aparece DESPUÉS del adjetivo.

4)   Siempre tenemos que usar los pronombres en el inglés
a.     Un pronombre es: yo, tú, él, ella, usted, nosotros, ustedes, ellos o ellas.
b.     En español, no siempre tenemos que usarlos porque la forma del verbo nos dice quien está haciendo la acción. Si yo digo, “Quiero aprender,” ustedes saben que YO quiero aprender.
c.      En inglés, la forma del verbo NO nos dice quien está haciendo la acción. Si yo digo, “Walks home,” no sabemos QUIEN está caminando. Tenemos que decir, “He walks home” para saber quien está haciendo la acción.

5)   En inglés, usamos el verbo “to be” (estar o ser) mucho. Solo usamos “have” (tener) con OBJETOS.
a.     Por ejemplo, en español decimos cosas como “Tengo calor,” “Tienes suerte,” o “Tiene razón.” Pero en inglés decimos, “I am hot,” “You are lucky,” o “She is right.” Usamos TO BE, no TO HAVE.

I'm pretty sure they make sense. They somehow sounded less complicated when I said them out loud than when I wrote them down. Basically (for you non-Spanish speakers out there), these are things like you always have to use pronouns in English - you don't have to in Spanish, because the form of the verb indicates who is doing the action. If you say quiero, I know you mean yo quiero (I want). Various cosas así. So that was what I had fun thinking about today. Tomorrow we're going to do a lot - review the alphabet and numbers, learn the structure of numbers 20-100, review our adjectives and colors that we have so far, through in a few new nouns, and some verbs so that we can add "I like to..." to our introductions that we will also practice during class. I'm thinking alphabet song, I'm thinking some fill-in-the-blanks on the board, I'm thinking some pictionary. I want to think of ways to move them around and get them doing different kinds of thinking - sometimes copying things down, sometimes answering questions I ask (with one-word responses, not the best, I know, but I think just word repetition is helpful), sometimes producing full sentences on their own. Hm. And yay. And I love them, and want to ask Erick and Edgar if there's any way we can continue during the curso de verano.

So lovely lesson-planning time on the azotea. Then check-in with Hayley (a jugo and a walk to the monument, some friendly reminders and a lot of affirmation from her. Aw geeze). Then off to the Museo to meet up with William. What a great day that was! (Picking this up now on Thursday evening.) Wow, tons of cool old Aztec stuff, and two very knowledgeable and awesome people to tell me all the cool stories behind each piece. My nerdy senses were tingling off the hook. William (have I explained who he is?) is a PhD student here at the Casa for 3 more weeks, in Mexico to find his dissertation topic, and to generally be awesome and also my new best friend. We made the trek back to the Casa on foot after our explorations in the the murky history of the Aztec empire. Took about an hour, perfect amount of time for getting-to-know-each-other talks, and for me to decide not to say anything as he smoked two cigarettes. Got back to find out that dinner would be an hour later than I thought it would be, so I took a jaunt upstairs to knock on the men's dorm (first time) to alert William that we did indeed have time for a taco. Whatever, he's just great to talk to. Super kind and value-oriented, but also funsies and hilurious. We are, in essence, besties. And he is super good at giving me a hard time, which is good, because I appreciate when someone can hold their own against my incredibly sharp wit. Anyway, community dinner, more funsies hanging out in the guest lounge. Linet and Gilbert pretty evenly matched (kind of... slash Linet has the edge) in a game of chess, William and I shared some music with the people around, whatever, great times. Generally a fantastic day.

So then Wednesday (yesterday) got up to finish lesson planning for Barrio, had a monthly planning meeting with the whole Casa team, and headed out to la Pastora con Brenda (Joey's friend who's going to teach dance classes there) for my third English class. It went alright. The coolest part was that I think it's what real school feels like. It was rainy, and the kids seemed pretty tired/distracted/bored, the three girls in the corner kept talking to each other in loud whispers, I didn't have as many jokes as before. I think it went alright though. I'm trying to develop a sense of where each student is, and I think I have rough outlines. Anyway, the best part was when I decided to stick around for Brenda's dance class. I hung out with Erick for a while, then Lessly got there and we practiced her English. It was cool, and I found out Erick actually understands pretty much everything I say in English unless I'm talking super super fast. Whatttt. But okay, so a bunch of the moms stuck around to hang out and watch the dance class happen (in a teeny tiny space, mind you). It was just so awesome to witness the community happening all around me. Around me, and TO me. People asked me questions and I made jokes with the moms about Erick's dancing. I feel so privileged, or lucky or something. It feels like i get to see a secret world that no one else knows about. And really, no one else in my world (except Olivia and Joey and now Brenda) has witnessed this place or these people, at least not to my knowledge. And that's pretty cool - that I get to be a part of it. So wow. On the way home, I noticed people passing their bus money from the back to the front, "Lo pases al señor, por favor?"

Last night I spent more quality time in the guest lounge, getting to know Crystal, who is super awesome. She's here to coordinate the IVCF (Inter-Varisty Christian Fellowship) group of college students who are at sites throughout Mexico, and is the coolest. Super great hanging out, getting caldo and a sope, talking Quakerism and music and spiritual challenge and exploration. I am super stoked for that friendship to continue. Today has been pretty mellow. Slash it started off pretty rough - breakfast, which I had not really prepared for and therefore some elements were stretched pretty thin (huevos and fruta, for example). Also wasn't really prepared for this discussion Medio Ambiente had about articles we were supposed to read. I got through parts, but hadn't read them as thoroughly as I wanted, and just generally felt like I was failing at life and everyone was going to hate me. But whatever, I got through it, and it was actually a cool discussion. We talked a lot about action growing out of faith/spirituality/listening to the way of the Spirit, and as action being a necessary component to demonstrating true alignment with the Spirit. Insert your own vocabulary where needed. Anyway, it felt like I was back at Pendle Hill, and it was really nice to realize that a space that has felt pretty secular so far can also hold spiritual talk like that. Something Quaker House never really became last semester.

Lounged around the rest of the day. Had a great time connecting with Linet and Lydia, then a lot of time with Joey. Looking forward to SLEEP tonight, mostly, before I can even think about everything happening tomorrow. It's been raining all day, so I'd like it to stop seeing as I can't cuddle with certain people, and go back to being sunny Mexico summer as opposed to Philadelphia spring. Nom. Can't wait for Mom to get here in exactly a week! Lots of hurrays about that one.

More soon, and love to errbody,

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dear Bee,

    I am psyched for Mom to visit, too! i think it going to be amazing slash super connecting. Do I sound like you????

    I loved your section on teaching, planning, and general pedagogy. So, to my experienced ears, you sound so so like an independent school teacher and I happen to be pretty good at knowing how to get those jobs, so, I'm just saying, not a bad thing to do with your life a few years out of college.And a person like you with your brains and experience and values is perfect to make a difference with the kinds of kids mainstream independent schools attract. Subversive work!

    I especially liked how you just expected, like it was the most natural thing, to scope out each student and determine where his or her learning edge was. That's a VALUE as well as an instructional skill. You can teach the latter but you can't instill the former. And I know you know you know that! I also loved reading all the "friendshippy" stuff, but you know I give special attention to the teaching. I think you have the gift, my dear, and gift can be denied but should not be.

    These posts are gifts to me, so thanks you for the window into your incredibly great life this summer. love, Dad.