Sunday, September 28, 2008

Guaymas Marina

Yesterday I put the Lesson Plans on hold and actually went out exploring Guaymas again with Mike. He has been so patient when I come home from school and immediately log onto my laptop and start working. But I must say I love my teaching hours, 7am-3pm, with my actual classes from 8-1:45.

I’ve always been a morning person and now I get up at 5am to walk with Sitka (although I’ve noticed a substantial increase in the crickets early in the morning. They keep hitting my legs, arms, or FACE in the Plaza. Is it cricket breeding season or what??), have coffee and watch the TV news with Mike at 6, and leave the apt at 6:50 to be on campus by 7. If I am totally organized for the next day I occasionally leave right at 3 and am home by 3:15. Not bad, huh?

Anyway, my friend here in Guaymas, Brenda, had another great post – this one is about a Pirate Ship that is visiting Guaymas. So yesterday we went down to the Guaymas Marina to check it out. The Marina is about a half mile from our apt, but we had never been there. I don’t know the history of the Marina, but it is being developed and I think the whole area will be really nice when it is complete. Right now there is just one dock and that is where the Pirate Ship is tied up. It is on the far right.
And here is another picture of it, blocked by the large, white boat. Unfortunately, the dock was secured and we couldn’t walk down there to check it out. And see the church steeples in this next pic? Our apt is just two blocks from the church.

The Marina area is all brand new – even this lighthouse looks new.There is a nice commercial development that has/will have a coffee shop, café and shops (nothing was open yesterday when we went.) It is all shiny steel (or something industrial-like) and glass and very modern. If I didn’t know I was in Guaymas I could have thought I was in Seattle.

Guaymas is sprucing up for the cruise ships that will begin stopping here in about 3 weeks although we can’t figure out where they will pull up. And I'm not sure what the cruisers will think of our laid-back, non-touristy town.

The last thing we noticed was the shrimp boats right next to the bright, new, gleaming Marina. An interesting juxtaposition for the visitor to Guaymas.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teaching is HARD!

As I have written previously, I loved going to school. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Tooley when I was in the fourth grade at Cedar Valley Elementary in Lynnwood, Washington. I'm not sure why I remember her as my favorite teacher, but I think she challenged me to be good (meaning good behavior v. good grades.) And if there is any reader out there that knows, or remembers, Mrs. Tooley I would love to hear from you.

During week four of my teaching career, I either came home crying to Mike or so excited and happy that I could not stop talking! The crying may be attributed to inexperience and frustration. The excitement and happiness may be attributed to those cute, little children that are learning from me.

Back to Mrs. Tooley - I see some children in my classes that are ME many, many years ago. Out of control. Not necessarily bad, but disruptive. Smart enough, but using their energy is such negative ways.

Sometimes I have to laugh when I reflect back on my school days. More often, I wonder how in the heck am I going to get the wild ones in my classes on track. I have great support, with both Mike and my principal, Elsa. But what about the children that are so busy acting up that they may not be learning any English?

If you know a teacher, give him or her a nod this week. Help them believe that their work is good.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Three Weeks of Teaching

I just completed my first Self-Evaluation and individual Evaluations for each of my 24 students. Whewwww! Luckily, I am a fast typer because there was a lot to write. But I like this kind of stuff. It will be fun to re-read these at the end of the year and reflect back on how it went.

The Self-Evaluation helped me to remember what has worked and what has not worked. Some of my activities just flopped - especially with the 3 year olds.

Luckily we have a new volunteer Teacher Assistant who is bilingual and she is now part of my class with the 4 year olds. Her role is to provide my instructions in Spanish. This is very helpful because these children don't seem to understand or care what I am saying to them.

The 5 year olds are my favorites and it feels like I am really teaching them. With the younger ones, I'm not sure they are learning much English. I've discussed this with Elsa and she reminds me that just being exposed to English helps them to learn English.

Overall, I'm satisfied with myself, although I am surprised at how much time is required to be a teacher.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mike's Birthday Party

“I had the greatest time last night…” That’s what Mike just said to me.

We pulled it off! He was so surprised when he and Richard came back to our apt and he saw our friends sitting in our living room when he thought we were heading out to his birthday dinner!

I had a tricky time sneaking snacks and his birthday cake into the apt before Richard came over with his “broken laptop” ruse. But it all came together and Sitka didn’t even bark (she stayed outside) when everyone came over!

And look at that hat! He he's a good lookin' cowboy, huh?
THANK YOU everyone for all of the good wishes for his birthday!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008's Mike's Birthday!

And I am going to try and pull off a surprise party this evening.

Mike thinks he and I are going out to dinner to celebrate his 52nd...but the plan is to have Richard from Scotland come over and get Mike around 6:30. Richard has been having problems with his laptop so he is going to ask Mike to come over to his casita to see if he can help with the laptop.

Little does Mike know, I have invited a few friends and neighbors to show up at 7:00...and when Mike comes back to the apt, "SURPRISE!!!"

He's still sleeping, but I'm about to wake him up before I leave for work. I almost lost Mike back in March when he was hospitalized in Mexico City. This year his birthday means more to me than any in the past.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mexican Independence Day

Yesterday in Guaymas we celebrated the Mexican-Spanish War of Independence. We had special activities at the Preschool and almost every one of the children dressed in traditional Mexican garb. We made Mexican crafts - my favorite were the maracas made from decorated Coke cans filled with pinto beans. The 3 years olds loved it!

After school Richard from Scotland had friends over for a snack including a seafood rice dish and around 8:00 we all headed over to the Plaza de los Tres Presidentes (about 3 blocks from our apt) where everyone was gathering. Except Mike didn't go - he wasn't feeling well yesterday.

The streets had been closed and were flooded with families. There was more Mexican garb and many stands selling Mexican flags and trinkets. There were two large bandstands and Mariachi bands in traditional charro, or cowboy, outfits. It was still very hot outside and I was amazed at their energy in the heavy clothing.

I wandered home alone and Mike was feeling better. We pulled our beach chairs out to our parking lot and watched the late-comers racing to the Plaza. The President of Guaymas was scheduled to speak at about 11:00 and we wanted to see the fireworks after his speech.

Well, we had PERFECT seats right outside out front was as if the fireworks were going to fall right onto us. And eventually they did!!! We were seeing the embers getting closer and closer to us and then when we heard them hitting the tile roofs of the houses around us, we jumped up. We didn't get hit, but it was close!

This morning I took Sitka for her walk and there were people cleaning everywhere! The parade is supposed to start around 8:00am and we'll have a nice, fresh start on this holiday.

¡Happy Independence Day, Mexico!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Workin' It

I'm happy to say that creating Lesson Plans is getting a bit easier. Today I finished my 3 sets of Lesson Plans for the week of Sept 22 at 1:00! And that included 2 sets of homework (for the 5 and 4 year olds) and special Lesson Plans for a student who will be in Colorado until the 26th.

Thanks to everyone who has provided ideas for lessons! And even more thanks to everyone who continues to support me and tell me I CAN DO IT!!

We bought our Mexican flags yesterday and now that my Lesson Plans are complete, I am ready to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week Two

Wow. We're watching TV news and the coverage about Hurricane Ike and what's happening in the Houston area. It is very bad - the winds reached 110 mph. And it makes us thankful that we only had rain here this week and although the kids didn't go to school on Thursday they were back in class yesterday.

The teachers went to school on Thursday and we had a training on the Teacher's Manual and Discipline Positivo - the discipline approach preferred at St. Mary's Preschool and Colegio Navarrete. It was nice to have a day to interact with the teachers and Principal without the children there!

At the end of Week Two I felt a lot more relaxed and confident that I will be a successful teacher. The 5 and 4 year olds both had English homework assignments this week and almost everyone got 100%! So they are learning English from me.

The highlight of my week was yesterday with the 5 year olds. I taught them how to do the Hokey Pokey. And they loved that! It was good to burn off some of their energy, plus they were learning the names of body parts without even realizing it. October's Theme Unit is Our Body so I have a feeling we'll be doing the Hokey Pokey a lot.

Next Tuesday, September 16, is Mexican Independence Day and it is a national holiday that is celebrated beginning on the 15th. We are decorating the classrooms and will have many activities on Monday to teach the children about Independence Day. Plus, we are having a special lunch with all the classes combined to enjoy some Mexican specialities. More about this next week.!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Lost My Friend

Back in May I posted about "seizing the day" when I found that my real estate mentor had been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Unfortunately, this great man and friend lost his life on Friday, September 5, 2008.

So if you have something on your mind, something that you have been thinking or dreaming about doing, take the steps to accomplish that goal or dream. We never know when our time will come.

Carpe Diem.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The First Week is Over

Halleluiah. This week I went through a test of sorts. And I think I passed. But I am beat.

I don’t think the children realized that yesterday was Friday – do they really understand time at that age? Do they know that for the next two days they will not go to school? The 5 and 4 year olds had a high energy level and I was counting the minutes until each class finished. Seriously. I had to go back to my August 12 post about time - HA. Time does matter to me after all.

Surprisingly, the 3 year olds have settled in over the five days…the little boy did not cry once and the 2 girls were finally peaceful with me. We had a great art project using water colors to paint the letter C on a piece of colored construction paper. And then we sprinkled kosher salt on the letter to make it sparkle. It was a little messy, but it kept them busy for quite a while.

Overall, I enjoyed the week. I sorta like having a schedule in my life again. However, I have to be honest and say that if we didn’t need the income I would not work.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day Four - My Best so Far!

If someone had told me on Monday that today would go as smoothly as it did, I would not have believed it. I had a very good and satisfying day at the Preschool.

I think it began with my morning power walk with Sitka. I have always preferred to exercise early in the morning and with the heat and humidity here in Guaymas that seems to be the only time I can attempt to exercise. And now it is so dark on the malecon at 5am that I've been walking the perimeter of the Tres Presidentes Plaza. It is less isolated, it has better lighting, and there is a taxi stand and newspaper seller in clear site. I feel safe with Sitka because I think people think she’s a lobo (wolf) and they don’t even want to get close to us! Plus, I tend to call her Lobo when we’re out early just in case someone is wondering.

We don’t have our hot water heater turned on yet because the tap/shower water is never cold, but rather a lukewarm temp. And when I come in from the morning walk it is so refreshing to have a cool shower. I understand that when the heat diminishes we’ll want the water heater on or I’ll never see Mike take a shower again (he likes HOT showers.)

Anyway, my 5 year olds were as attentive as ever and the 4 year olds were kept so busy with their little projects that they didn’t have time to cause any problems. (Yesterday one of the boys kicked one of the other boys and that required me to complete a Report about the incident and the "kicker" had a long "time out.") My babies, the 3 year olds, are coming around…the little boy was quiet when I first got to the class, but NO CRYING when he saw me! That was a first. The two girls even shared their lunch fruit with me and by the end of the class they were all laughing and hugging me and almost saying, “See you tomorrow.”

The “crème de la crème” was walking into the apt today and seeing that Mike still had the mop out. He had cleaned the whole apt and already had cut up the fixins for a shrimp salad. How could a teacher have it any better???

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day Three - I had a "moment"

The 3 year olds are still the most challenging class I have. And the little boy has still been crying over the last 3 days. And that is anytime he sees me! His Spanish teacher has stayed in class with us everyday because that's the only way he won't try to escape from me.

I had "guard duty" this morning which means escorting the Preschool students from the parking lot (where they are dropped off by their parents) to the outdoor hall that leads to the classrooms. By virtue of being the teacher greeting the parents and students this morning I managed to get the little boy crying before school even started!!!

However, I also had a chance to speak to the little boy's mom. She was upset that her little boy was upset and then, of course, I got upset. The mom was very nice to me and I tried to comfort her and tell her that he'll get over it...(like I would know...)

The "moment" part of this post happened around 2:00 today. I also had "guard duty" from 1:45-2:15 when the parents come to pick up their kids. Out of the blue, the little boy walked up to me and GAVE ME A BIG HUG and a smile. The first smile I'd seen from him. And when his mom showed up, he was still smiling and he actually kissed me on the cheek before running to his mom.

I can't explain why he changed so dramatically in the two hours since I had left his class. I just hope he loves me in the morning...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day Two - Ladybug, Ladybug Nursery Rhyme

Ladybug! Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that's little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

Can you believe that most of us were probably taught that rhyme as children? Have you read it recently? I just did as I was searching the internet for lesson plan ideas. I think I'll skip the Ladybug rhyme in my classes.

Day Two at Mary's Preschool went a lot smoother than Day One! The 5 year olds are the ones I like the best because they listen and for the most part they do what I ask them to do. The 3 year olds are still struggling with me, but none escaped from the classroom today. And the 4 year olds come in to my class after 15 minutes of playing on the playground. Water is the most important thing for them! I've already learned to not even attempt to start a project until they all get some water out of the water cooler.

So my six hours in class and the extra two hours of planning (including a teacher meeting held every Tuesday) flew by again today. But now I'm tasked with creating Lesson Plans for next week, plus a homework assignment (HOMEWORK?? They're gonna hate me!) for the 5 and 4 year olds - all due TOMORROW.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day One - Is it Over Yet???

My body hurts. Hurts in a good way. But I have not been bending, squatting, reaching, or sitting on floor mats much at this point in my life...until today! Until almost 6 hours worth of classroom time with a total of 23 (minus 1 or 2 that I may have misplaced today) hyperactive, Mexican kids that know little or next to none English. CARAMBA!

The thing I learned most quickly is that I need more activities planned to keep them busy. But I also saw that some of them were scared/uncomfortable and they didn't want to be there. They wanted their mommies. But I was very satisfied that one of the 5 year olds (my first class of the day) started crying right after her dad left my classroom, but I was somehow able to console her, remember her name all morning (names is a whole other post), and help her get through Day One.

My second class was with the 3 year olds. And even though there were only 3 of them, this was the toughest class. The little boy could not stop crying - although he was happy for the first 2 hours with his Spanish teacher! And then the 2 little girls kept "escaping" to the playground area! I was so happy to see their Spanish teacher come back to help me out. In fact, everyone was helping me with these 3 rascals. I think the language barrier is most difficult for these little ones.

My third class is with the 4 year olds - about 10 of them. Now these characters have a mind of their own and they know just enough English to be dangerous. It was difficult for me to get ALL of them going on the same activity. So I let them do activities in 2 groups. Hey, as long as there was no crying I was happy.

The day quickly came to an end and then I had an hour on campus to rework my Lesson Plans for tomorrow! I'll work from home after I eat Mike's delicious tuna and egg salad and try to get a good night's rest for Day Two.