Keep Smiling, Keep Shining

I’m not sure anyone still keeps up with my trip in here but because it needs a proper ending, and I never ended my blog from Spain, I owe it to the blogosphere to complete this!

Our last week flew by. There were some hiccups this week though that caused some stress. Tuesday morning my teacher was late because his babysitter was late. So I was by myself in the morning and panicking! We’re not to be left alone in the classroom so I informed the vice principal of this situation. She knew why Mr. Garcia was late and I couldn’t help but wonder why no one informed me of this. The communication within the schools isn’t the greatest. So after the assembly (in which Charlotte and I were introduced to the school…our last week…) Mrs. Enriquez came into my classroom and together we tried to find something to teach. Both her and the principal came to my room and seemed perturbed that they needed to babysit my students until Mr. Garcia returned. I felt like I was in trouble and that they felt it was my fault that I couldn’t be there by myself. Sorry, but it’s illegal for me to be by myself. Once Mr. Garcia returned, Mrs. Enriquez stayed and stood there while we talked about a possible subject I could teach. It was like pulling teeth because he didn’t care what I did and I didn’t mind. We settled on a language arts lesson reviewing topic sentence. Preparing this lesson, I was an absolute mess. I came up with a fun activity for the class to do and felt pretty good about it. So on Wednesday I taught my lesson. The students already had a great background knowledge in this area but Mr. Garcia was convinced they needed more work. The students did well but when asked to do the independent work, their confidence wasn’t the highest. Many of them wanted to do the topic I was doing because they knew it was correct. I encouraged them to do their own topic sentences and detail webs on what they are experts on. Mr. Garcia took their thought webs up for a grade and many students told me they were excited that they did so well. That made me feel great! But these students need more structured lessons and rigor in the classroom so that they may become more autonomous in their school work. As I was leaving on Wednesday, Mr. Garcia and I settled on having the students write a paragraph based on their plans for class the next day. So Thursday came along. Thursday was the night of the Christmas concert so many teachers left during the school day to set up and practice with students involved in the program. Problem is, Charlotte and I were going to be in our classrooms alone. Though mr. Garcia said he’d be setting up, he didn’t leave on this day. Maybe because I made a big deal about not being in the classroom alone two days before. Charlotte was in the classroom alone most of this day with no warning or word from her teacher. This happens a lot. Sometimes teachers don’t come to school or step out. And their class simply stays there…with no instructor or substitute. So since many teachers were out this day, there was no language arts and therefore no lesson for me to teach. I’m not sure what the students do when their teacher doesn’t show up. Things are just different in Belize. Friday came along and there were 11 students in my class and no instruction on this day. My teacher tried to sneak some instruction in but we basically did nothing all day. These days are a waste of the students’ time if you ask me. They’re there to learn and the teachers just don’t teach. There’s a great deal of wasted time in these schools. For lunch on Friday, we went to a luncheon with Galen university representatives. This lunch was very nice. They asked about our experiences here both in and outside of the classroom. I really feel like they listened to us and understood where the school system is lacking. Though they cannot change the schools (the ministry of education had everything to do with that) they listened to our concerns and how their schools differ from those in the USA.

Saturday morning we were off to caye caulker again for the weekend! Hoping for sunny weather, we set up in our condo and posted up on the roof for some sun and reading. Sunday we woke up to some sun but the clouds quickly moved in so Charlotte and I decided to take the water taxi over to San Pedro for the day. San Pedro was beautiful with beaches, shops, good food, and lots to do. I think if I were to come back to Belize this is where I’d go…though things here are more touristy and therefore expensive. Monday was out last day in caye caulker and we had reserved our place on a trip out to the legendary Blue Hole. We went to snorkel and many others on the trip went to dive and see the cave features under the water. There were three stops on this snorkel trip and each one offering more underwater surprises. The first stop we saw a sea turtle, black tip reef sharks, and a ray. The second stop, we were followed by a barracuda, spotted a flounder and giant conch. On the second stop we snorkels up to this island. (Half moon caye) We then climbed up to see the birds that lived on the island. There were red footed boobys and frigate birds. Pretty cool but a little gross smelling. Then we walked along the island and came to a resort where we ate lunch on some picnic tables with the iguanas. Haha We then rode the boat to our final stop where we saw a huge ray, a huge sea turtle, and Charlotte got stung by a jelly fish. Then we returned home! After getting off the boat, I felt pretty dizzy and terrible. We went out for pizza and it felt like the table was moving, but food helped and I eventually recovered…though I did get pretty sunburnt on the boat. Tuesday, we returned to Belmopan, said goodbye to Valerie, stopped by our school to pick up some gifts, picked up Brandi and Meghan and headed to the airport where I waited for MITCHELL!!!!! I was sad to see the lifelong friends I made in Belize go though. We truly were blessed with great home stays, roommate assignments, and experiences while in Belize.

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