Next step: Spanish

Baby steps to Spanish. (From What About Bob?, you guys. Remember that?)
Baby steps to Spanish. (From What About Bob?, you guys. Remember that?)

I am officially done with my classroom volunteering. I’m a little sad because I’m going to miss those kids, but since it ate up my only day off of the week, I’m glad to have a little more free time/time to make some more money.  And I’ll still be at Homework Hub, so I’ll get to see those kids, and maybe a few Wellstone kids, too.  So, what do I need to do now?

That’s right: learn Spanish. That’s going OK. I came into a little money and paid for 4 private lessons, and that’s been helpful. The main thing I need to practice is speaking out loud.

I’m also going to spend 2 weeks studying in Guatemala! This is huge. I’ve never been away from home for 2 weeks before. No, really. It’s about time, right? I’ll be studying at a school in San Pedro La Laguna (last night I dreamt of San Pedro…) and staying with a family that speaks Spanish and maybe another indigenous language, but no English. My brain is aching just thinking about it.

My sister the traveler (who has a delightful blog that you should check out) has been very helpful in planning this trip. In fact, she graciously gifted me the travel miles so that I could get there in the first place. She’s going to Spain, Uganda, and possibly Wisconsin in 2013, so she’ll get them back. She also studied in Guatemala a few years ago, albeit at a different school in a different city. But tips like “Don’t bring clothes you like because they will likely be ruined,” or “Know the money exchange rate so you don’t get ripped off” are helpful.

I’ve been saying all along that I need to take the proficiency test before I apply. Well, the notes I have, which I just reviewed last night, say that I don’t have to complete it until I start student teaching. But, I also have a handwritten note that says I DO have to have it done before I apply. So, I’m just going to do that. I’m sure it will make my application stronger, in any case. Maybe I should schedule it for shortly after I return from Guatemala so I’m fresh.  Plus, if I fail, I’ll have time to retake it before the December application deadline.  Oh, and I have to take ANOTHER written test, but that’s not until I’m in the program. I forgot about that one.

One step at a time. I finished the volunteer work, I made a lot of progress with my Spanish. Now I can focus on Spanish for maybe 6-8 weeks, then go HAM on my personal statements.

Technology in the classroom

Please enjoy this kitten.
Please enjoy this kitten.

I like using technology because it makes things easier, but only when it makes things easier. And in my limited experience, technology in the classroom doesn’t always make things easier.

I do like the projector thing that is similar to an overhead projector, but it’s just for regular paper. That makes sense. And smart boards might work OK. Some of the students were playing a timed matching game where they identified parts of the body in English. They had a BLAST. Our summer school smart board only works intermittently, but I’m not sure if that’s the teacher’s lack of experience with it or a problem with the board itself. I’ve never used one before, so I’m no help.

But a lot of times, it just seems like a lot of horsing around trotting down to the computer lab and trying to get everybody logged into the computer, then the school site, then the classroom site, and I don’t have a login because I’m new, and I don’t remember my login, and my computer doesn’t work, and those two over there are too busy taking selfies, and the teacher didn’t name the file correctly and no one can find it. And it just seems like sometimes it would be quicker to give everyone a worksheet.

And then there was the day when one of the classrooms had a missing iPad. I don’t know the outcome of that. I do know that security was called in to search backpacks. We used MacBook Airs in summer school, and I collected them as the students left. I ended up with the same number I started with, but with all the chaos of 30+ leaving, it would not have been hard for someone to sneak by me.

When the iPad incident happened, one of the other teachers said, “Just give me the books.” And I’m inclined to agree, to my surprise. Because I want these students to get technology experience. But I’m not sure that they’re learning anything useful, except how to use Google Translate to cheat. Once they get to more advanced levels, they do PowerPoints and so forth. I guess that’s helpful, although I’m not sure the world needs more PowerPoints.

I just feel like technology in schools gets an automatic thumbs-up, and there’s just so much room for improvement. It’s just a lot of money out of a limited budget, and I want to know that the kids are getting the most out of it. I want to use it in my own classroom someday, but I just hope it’s the best choice for the students.

Backpedaling

Duo the Duolingo owl says, "Tal vez no lo puedo."
Duo the Duolingo owl says, “Tal vez no lo puedo.”

If I’m being realistic, there is no way that I am going to achieve Spanish fluency by this autumn. And being realistic is the only choice I have.

Had I spent the last few months in a Spanish-speaking country, or working at a job where I spoke Spanish 8 hours a day, I could have done it. Maybe. Probably. That’s not what I did, though.

So I’m thinking I’m just going to apply to teach ESL only. Maybe I can add Spanish later. I’m going to keep studying (I pre-paid for 3 more private lessons, and them shits ain’t cheap).  The more Spanish I know, the better I can teach ESL–it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.

I’m still mulling this over. Mercury is in retrograde, and while I don’t believe in astrology, my brain is acting like it’s real. Also, I tend to get cranky and depressed in July (too hot).

I should write more about summer school volunteering and stuff like that. Maybe later this weekend. It’s just been hard to get my thoughts in order. I just banged this out in a few minutes because it has to be put out there.