I have been teaching now in Pigeon Cay for 2 weeks (minus this week when I am on vacation, yep 2 weeks of teaching and already a vacation!). I am not going to lie, it has been a roller coaster.
I teach 1st-6th grades. I try to teach them English. We are all finding our way in this and some days I win and some days I lose. I mostly lose with the 1st and 2nd graders, or so I thought. Then there are these small little miracles which appear in my day and remind me that we are all reachable and all teachable.
My 1st and 2nd graders are a mixed bag. I have a few students who want to learn so badly that in the midst of the complete chaos they shine like little stars and manage to learn something, although I don’t know how because I am more referee than teacher, or to be honest 99% referee and 1% teacher. These children are why I am here, in my opinion. They speak no English. This is upsetting to many of the people on Pigeon Cay since it is their native language.
In my 3rd-6th grade classes I have one student in each class who can at least bridge enough of the language gap that we can get things done. In 1st & 2nd grade I am without an ally or a friend. These students spend the entire class doing one or several of the following: hitting, punching, cussing, spitting, running, yelling, coloring, or ignoring. After 1 hour and 20 minutes of this I am at my wits end. The other teacher is amazing and allows me to cart them off to her class to sit so my students can have some hope of learning. But after 2 days of this I was determined to handle it myself. While my incredible determination will not allow me to quit it can not keep me from feeling defeated. In my second week it started the same but then I noticed halfway through that I only had to take one child out and not four. The others were rowdy but they had changed. They were still pushing but less so. They were now at least willing to try to make this work, even if it is on their terms.
In one of the classes amidst the chaos a little girl came into class about 30 minutes late with her mother. Before I could say anything about her being late her mother explained that her daughter was sick and the mother tried to make her stay home but the little girl refused. She HAD to get to English class. I looked at her and almost cried. I had reached one of these little children. I couldn’t believe it.
The next class the little boy who is the most violent and requires constant monitoring from both me and the other teacher wouldn’t relent. I found out he has trouble at home. Immediately I knew I had to reach him. I spent days thinking about how to reach him and then at a soccer game, after he had been in several fights, he walked past me, and quietly handed me a cookie and walked away. I can’t explain to you why, especially since I don’t eat cookies, but it was one of the most precious gifts I have been given. A peace offering maybe? Or maybe just permission to keep trying because he is paying attention.
Either way, I know we have a lot to teach each other and I am so excited.