Monday, September 14, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

We are about a month into year two, and what a month it has been! Connielyn and I have been so busy, we haven’t had a second to breathe. We are constantly running around the school, teaching our classes, planning for our next classes, and meeting with other teachers and staff members. Our days are crazy, but we still love it!

We started this school year exactly a month ago, on August 17th. We walked into school the first day, and it was so nice to be back in the place we love so much. We were greeted by other staff members and friends we had made last year. Everything was familiar and comfortable. This new school year was a very different experience from last year. Last year, everything was new and exciting, but also scary. I had no idea how the school worked or who anyone was outside our group of six volunteers. This year, it was just me and Connielyn, but we weren’t alone—we were surrounded by people we already know and love. We already knew the school and how it worked, so we were able to jump right back into life at the Hogar. 

As a volunteer, it is always important to be flexible. Going into this year, Connielyn and I were unsure of what we would be doing. We figured we would be working in the Nivel Inicial, like last year, and Connielyn wanted to work in the Deaf School as well. I was unsure of what I would be doing, but I knew what I didn’t want to do: I knew I absolutely did NOT want to be the English teacher in the high school, which was Angie’s job last year. I was so scared they were going to ask me because as far as we knew, they hadn’t hired a new English teacher yet. Our first week at school, the students weren't back yet so we were just resettling in and getting ready to start classes in the Nivel Inicial. The Director told us we would have our own classroom this year, which was so exciting! So we got right to work making materials to decorate our classroom. We met with the other teachers in the Nivel Inicial, and we created a schedule for classes. All the while, I was still unsure of what I would be doing for work.

That next Monday was the first day of classes, so the students finally arrived! We got to school at around 8 a.m., like we do every morning. We were just starting our day when someone knocked on our office door and told us that Carmen, the Coordinator of the High School, wanted to talk to me. I walked up to the high school so nervous that she was going to ask me to do the one thing I didn’t want to do. Sure enough, at 8:45 a.m. Carmen and the Director asked me if I could do them a favor and teach English to the Freshmen, Sophomore, and Senior classes—five classes in total. I said yes, even though I was terrified on the inside, because there was nothing else to say. I am a volunteer at the Hogar and am there to help them however I can. The school needed an English teacher, and so I stepped in to fill the position until they hired someone. So at 8:50 a.m. with my heart in my throat, I walked into my first class of 38 seniors. I had no plans, no time to plan, and I was so nervous I was shaking, but I made it through. Luckily, I already knew a lot of the students in that class and had built relationships with them last year, so there were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. I made it through my next four classes that day as well, and each time it became a little less scary. 

Now, it is three weeks later, and I have continued to be the English teacher in the High School. It is a job I never wanted to do, but I love it. It is hard, challenging, and frustrating. There are classes when I just want to walk out of the room and leave it all behind, but I love every single one of my students. They are all smart, talented, and want to learn. I have never been in a classroom where students are so eager to learn. One of my main challenges is getting the students to stop talking out of turn, but most of the time when they are talking, they are yelling out the answers or asking me to call on them and then getting upset when I don’t. This is such a drastic contrast from when I was in high school, since I personally never wanted to participate, and my peers were never this excited to answer a question either.

I don’t know how much longer I will be the English teacher in the high school. I know they have hired a new teacher, but I’m not sure when she will start. What I will be doing this Monday is a mystery to me. I have started setting up plans for what I will be doing next, but I won’t be sure of what I’m doing until I have actually started. As I said before, in this job, flexibility is key. I can’t wait to feel settled in and actually know what my job will be this year, but I will miss my students so much when I am no longer teaching them every day. It has been a great start to the year, and I am so happy to be continuing this adventure at the Hogar del Niño.