We are now into our final week of our immersion trip to Costa Rica! These past two weeks have flown by. It feels like I've not stopped moving, everyday brings something new. I'm still feeling a little mental fatigue, which is normal. However; I've really been enjoying my time with my family and keep reminding myself why I'm down here. In order to be a better teacher. Remember when traveling abroad for extended period of time that its good to have a support group. I would consider my friends, my girlfriend, my parents, and my tico family part of my support group. They really helped me push through mental fatigue. For the first half of the week we visited the Cloud Forest School and Life Monteverde ( a coffee farm).
For our third week we received a brand new Spanish teacher. I also remained with the same group that I was put into halfway through last week. Our teacher had just finished school as a guide, but had been teaching Spanish at CPI for two years. She came off as friendly and really wanted to get to know us. Also she was pretty firm about the rule of the class, no English. Her personality in the classroom could be described as tough love; she wanted us to learn but not cut corners. This first three days showed me that she had a good command of both teaching grammatical points and promoting conversational skills. Another added bonus was that she understand enough English that she would listen to our questions in English if we couldn't say it in Spanish and then respond in Spanish. This was surprisingly a lot more helpful than expected. I just feel bad that my classmates at this point were over trying to learn Spanish at an in depth level.
**no pics from this class**
Takeaway: having a good balance of grammatical teaching and conversational teaching is key. Also being able to understand some of the language of your students' L1 is very helpful. Allows them to work through a tough language issue by being to talk about it and if they want to ask a questionthe teacher could respond in English as a way to model the language.
Cloud Forest School (CEC Monteverde)
On Tuesday we got to visit the Cloud Forest School which is a private school in Monteverde. The school is only 150 students roughly and most of the students receive scholarships from a foundation based in the Unites States. The school is Pre-K through 12th grade and follows a dual language model. From pre-K up to 5th grade the classes are co-taught with a native Spanish teacher and a native English teacher. In middle school and high school the classes are taught in English with only Spanish and Social Studies being in Spanish. What was interesting was that they had an SSL program for non-native Spanish speakers but no ESL specialist. The school prepares the students for higher education in the Unites States or Costa Rica. A unique feature of the school is that they are very environmental. They recycle everything that they can, have a reforsetation area, and a compose pile. A lot of the projects put on by teachers or students have an environmental theme. Though we weren't able to teach there, I did enjoy the tour very much. Even getting a chance to talk to the academic counselor at the school. Hopefully this up coming year I'll get the chance to interview with the school!
Inside a kindergarten room.
There was a lot of paintings on the sides of the buildings. Which students and the art teacher helped with.
This is the compost pile that the school created. They use worms to create fertilizer out of the compost.
They even have a tree house!!
Reforestation area. Every student plants gets to plant a tree.
I thought this situation was funny. The students found a thin tree to climb on and jump off. They did this for 10 minutes or more and not one teacher said anything. In the States teachers would be all over the kids for doing that. Just a simple contrast.
Takeaway: I love what the school is doing here. The language philosophy is one of the better situations I've seen. Honoring both languages throughout the academic years. Something that I myself want to promote in my future school. I also like the environmental aspect they have going on. As much as I love technology I think we all still need nature in our lives. Even for myself I've been exposed to a lot more environmental activities here than at home. Lastly, I'm looking to teach outside the United States for at least a year and this school will be either number 1 or 2 on my list!
On Wednesday morning our group went to a coffee farm called Life Monteverde. This farm was created by a family to not only produce coffee and other products, but to teach others about sustainability. We talked to one of the owners about all sorts of aspects of sustainability. From being environmentally friendly to community sustainability to economic sustainability. The farm is on its way to being completely sustainable. They create their own fertilizer, help out with reforestation, and have animals which they use for other products. The owner even took us on a tour and picked our brains from a teacher's perspective. Asking us what questions we could ask our students if they were taken their. Even better how would we promote their on inquiry into the farm. Of course we weren't just there to talk and tour. They put us to work! We cleared a small part of land and planted a small patch of seeds for them. I knew farming was hard but I'm really glad that I don't have to clear land everyday.
These are some of the goats from the farm. They help created fertilizer and other products.
The area I'm standing on we had to clear. And the stick I'm holding is used to create holes for the seeds. And a nifty way to pretend to be a warrior.
Takeaway: I learned a lot about environmental teaching to my future students. From what questions to ask and how to put them in situations to explore nature. If I lived in that area I would definitely have my school go to that farm to learn about sustainability.
Other takeaways from the beginning of the week
My hermano tico graduated from 1st grade! This is him attacking the piñata they had at the class dinner.
Till next time. Pura Vida!