One year ago I was headed to Guatemala and the most amazing experience of my teaching career with Teachers2Teachers-International! Wish I was on the way now, but I know I will return. The people I met, especially my translators, changed my life forever!
These trips allowed me to 'walk my talk'. It is one thing to talk about diversity and helping open further access to students. It is another to be the one working with teachers to collaborate on change and implementation. These trips allowed me to reflect on not only my profession and practice but also on what some children and teachers face just to put a foot in a school.
I have been to Santa Avelina twice and am deeply committed to these teachers. I have worked with the first grade teacher, Lena, both years. I enjoy the first grade students, and the relationship I have with Lena. The second year, I invited a recent college graduate to travel with me as an interpreter. She is now teaching mathematics for my community college, so you can surmise what a great help she was in communicating mathematics to the teachers. In this particular picture, we were participating in a lesson that included our learning of Ixil, their Mayan language, and their learning of English and a mathematics lesson set in the context of their environment.
On my first trip, I was shocked at the lack of vertical planning the teachers actually do. They don't seem to understand the impact that the way they teach something like number sense has on future student learning. I strongly believe that we should make a commitment to return every year to this school to continue the progress that has been made.
My students and I all realize that service is important, but my experience helped me realize that service can come in many forms. In particular, it's important to think about what others actually need, not what I think they need. I'm hoping to talk with my students about what service they're doing and how that is impacting others. In addition, I am planning to incorporate some projects into my classes where the students think about how math is used in the lives of people in developing countries.
It was the BEST day in my teaching career!! Professionally, I don't have words. Last night was one of the best days of my life.
By the last day, I wasn't new, I was just the Guatemalan students' teacher. We were a team. I'm planning to return next year.
Having worked with teachers for many years, I can say that my T2T experience was one of the most meaningful I have had. It was so refreshing to work with the Guatemalan teachers who were enthusiastic and eager to learn. Partnering with the teachers there gave me an opportunity to learn from them - I loved it!
We talk about student-centered learning in the US and the incredible impact it has on students. We are showing this concept to the Guatemalans, in their rural towns, and they are embracing it. More importantly, the students are embracing it! I am a new middle school math teacher in the US and found my eight-day experience in El Paredón and Nueva Esperanza schools to be extremely influential in my teaching. Once again, as the saying goes, I learned more than I gave! The Guatemalans are beautiful, proud, respectful, happy, appreciative people. I was honored to be a part of a team.
We listened to each other and learned. We respected each other as colleagues. It was so eye opening for me.
The educators I was able to work with for the week were incredible, and I learned so much by working alongside them. Throughout the week, I was able to grow as a translator and as and educator. It is exciting to think about what could be accomplished through this program, especially after seeing the enthusiasm from the local teachers in just one week.
I had the opportunity to collaborate with talented teachers from around the U.S. to support instruction at a school in Santa Avelina. I never expected to learn more from the local teachers and students than I taught them. I am so grateful to have had this experience and to be able to share it with my students.
I love to work with Teachers2Teachers-International, because I feel that my goal as part of T2T’s team is not to "dump knowledge" on the teachers but rather to develop a relationship with them — a true collaboration.
Together we imagined new ways of teaching, a different learning experience than most of us had. Anyone making this shift alone faces an insurmountable task; however, as a community we felt empowered.
I think this is going to be a beautiful experience for everyone involved. Thank you so much for this opportunity!