So one of my biggest problems for the first half of the summer was missing school. The very first week I got there, I only had two days of classes. The last week before mid-service I only had one day, and not a single full week of classes in between. Since there are only 2 teachers at the school (not including me), anytime they have any sort of teacher’s meeting or director’s meeting, school is cancelled. It seems to me that the school directors (sort of the principal and many times the only teachers in the Costa Rican escuelas) pretty much have free reign. I’m not sure if they have an allotted number of days that they have to be in school, but I’ve just started to assume not because some of the reasons that school is cancelled lead me to believe that they can do whatever they want.
Reasons school has been cancelled:
Arts festival in San Isidro
*Christian has a soccer game
The Niña had a doctor’s appointment
Just to name a few. And for some reason if only half the school doesn’t have class (because each teacher teaches half the school), the next day the other half won’t have class, just to keep things “fair,” I guess. As a result of all the days of school we missed during the first half of the summer, I wasn’t able to finish Unit 1 and had to finish it last week. As much as I hate to say it, I’m extremely skeptical as to how much the kids in these schools are actually learning. For instance, in one of our first Charlas about Costa Rican teaching and education, we were informed that we couldn’t really be guaranteed that our kids would be able to read or write until at least second grade, if not third grade. I noticed that first hand when I realized how long it was taking my first and second graders to write out the full date in English each day. Since then, I’ve cut down on how much I have my first and second graders write. I try to print out handouts with the words on there and then have the students draw accompanying pictures.
Though I wish I had more training and expertise in helping some of the problems that my students have with learning, I do what I can. I’m extremely lucky, at least, that all of my students truly enjoy learning English and even if they don’t learn as much as I want them to, they’re getting a good basis that will certainly help them later in life.
*Christian is a 5th grader who plays on the county soccer team. Every time he has a soccer game during the week, school is cancelled. I’m still trying to understand this.