School and the Weekend

Some of the kids we met on our walk this weekend
the river we crossed
A neat tree


I can see you in the morning when you go to school
Don’t forget your books, you know you’ve got to learn the golden rule,
Teacher tells you stop your play and get on with your work
And be like Johnnie-too-good, well don’t you know he never shirks
- he’s coming along!

After school is over you’re playing in the park
Don’t be out too late; don’t let it get too dark
They tell you not to hang around and learn what life’s about
And grow up just like them - wont you let it work it out
- and you’re full of doubt

Don’t do this and don’t do that
What are they trying to do?
- make a good boy of you
Do they know where it’s at?
Don’t criticize; they’re old and wise
Do as they tell you to
Don’t want the devil to
Come out and put your eyes

Maybe I’m mistaken expecting you to fight
Or maybe I’m just crazy, I don’t know wrong from right
But while I am still living, I’ve just got this to say
It’s always up to you if you want to be that
Want to see that
Want to see that way
- you’re coming along!

Wow! What a learning curve.

I guess you all want to know what happened with the grade 8 sweathogs. Well, Thursday, I don’t have the grade 8’s on my schedule at all, so that made for a pretty good day. I let all the other classes out about 5 minutes early and made a big deal out of how quiet and well behaved they were and how I could let them go. I know lots of the grade 8’s have siblings and friends in the other classes. Friday I had the grade 8’s again, and they were relatively quiet and well behaved and read their stories and listened. How deflating. Just when I was ready to play ball, they gave up… BORING!!! However, I think my grade 7’s are vying for the grade 8 game. I had them out running up and down the stairs today.

Homework. Why do I keep giving it out??? Why??? I just have to mark the frikin’ stuff! It takes hours … And Hours ... AND HOURS!!! I spent every moment of every day that I have just MARKING homework. And still I give it out. WHY???

I’m getting in the swing of things though. I have thirty-seven forty minute classes a week. I have 5 grades and 10 classes. My class sizes range from 14 (grade 7’s) to 23 (grade 8’s). I’m getting good at marking too. I can now read a short story and give a mark out of 70 in 5 minutes flat. I get a real gut feeling about some of them.

Here is one of my grade 8 short stories. This unfortunately got 46 / 70. Definitely not the worst mark in the class. By the way, the assignment was: Write a short children’s story that involves someone who is working in the Profession that you want to have a career in.

Once upon a time in Teletubilandia there live 4 beautiful bears they’re names were Pinky-Dinky, Dixy, Lala and Po.
They like to play all the day. After school they do homeworks and they go to play.
One day Pinky + Dinky don’t want to do the homework. He just want to play with his new car color red.
Lala told Pinky-Dinky to do his homeworks and he don’t want.
At the next day that Pinky-Dinky need to give his homework and he didn’t do it.
So from that day he always do his homeworks.


I guess she wants to be a Teletubby? Seems to me I remember school work being at a slightly higher level in grade 8. Am I crazy? One of the kids told the story of Snow White, another of the Country Mouse and City Mouse, but with dogs, another two retold the Robert Munch story that I had just read them in class, but with different names.

It took me 15 minutes to dictate a sentence to the grade 11 class and get them to write it down properly. Grade 11 is the last grade; they go to university next year. Do you think they’re ready? I hope they pick a Honduran Uni, because if they pick UofT, they are in for one big big shock.

It’s a funny mixture of sadness and curiosity and joy. I think my grade 7’s and 9’s can finally write a list of 10 adjectives. However, getting them to mark a clause as adverb, adjective or noun is another story.

Friday afernoon we went to visit Aodhan’s little pet kitten that he has made friends with at the little hotel that costs 150 lempira a night. After that we went to the internet cafĂ©. The rest of the night, I cooked supper and marked papers. Saturday, I did laundry all day. There was a lot of it because I was sick the last couple days before school started, and I have had no time to think about it since then. The kids get sooooo dirty. On Sunday night, I let the kids try Hilary and Iain’s neat vacation method of stomping their dirty clothes in the shower while they showered. It worked great! Now if only we had enough water every day to shower…

This weekend, I spent all of Saturday marking. In the evening Puran and Rita and I went out to one of the nicer restaraunts Coyote and Something or other. It was pretty good. We got these huge plates of food, and soft drinks and a big platter of corn chips and refried beans and cheese in a kind of a terra cotta fondu thingy. Rita and Puran have been so helpful that I insisted on paying. The whole bill came to 440 Lempira, and Puran insisted on leaving the tip. After being here for a while, I know why people rave about Canadian Beef. The beef here is generally quite tough. At least it’s not generally like the Santa Maria Hotel, which I have now found out has a reputation for disgusting road-kill flavoured food.

Puran insisted on going to some nightclubs. I had woken up at 3:30 that morning and had not been able to sleep again, so I was pretty dead. The clubs were ok, but the Salsa one was a little loud. After 20 years of working with noisy lab instruments, my hearing is not so good, so I can’t stand noisy places. The one thing I am impressed with here is the lack of smoke. Some people smoke, but not that many, and they don’t seem to chain smoke. I was worried about what that would be like here.

I got up a little later on Sunday, about 6am, and started marking. I marked all morning. At about 2p.m., we went for a walk. We went north? on the Boulevard – that’s 4th avenue I think – it’s the bigger one on the map. Anyway, we went in the other direction away from Santa Maria, away from Tegucigalpa. We crossed the river, and walked for about half an hour to 45 minutes. We were quite far out, but there were still some houses and then stretches with no houses, and some little dirt roads going off in between the hills. Some of the scenery was beautiful. A lady and a couple little boys invited us into her house and we went. She gave Aodhan some Pepsi, and he was ecstatic. There were about 8 kids there, ranging in age from one to 12. The kids had Dora the Explorer on the TV and Aodhan was in heaven. The lady told me not to go further because there are the Mara there. These are gangs that prey in the ghettos. Sure enough after I had been there for about 15 minutes, and group of about a dozen or so guys walked by. There were about 6-8 adults (18-25ish) carrying machetes and other assorted weaponry. There were about half a dozen teenagers (12-16) and a couple of little boys. She pointed them out and looked very concerned. I would have taken a photo, but I didn’t really want to attract attention. I was a little nervous at that point. I have become very complacent, living in Canada. It really is so safe there everywhere. It is a new appreciation of how wonderful it is to feel safe every day. We started to walk back, but finally were able to flag a taxi. I have realized that on our cool little walks only have to be one way. We can get lost and just grab a taxi back. They all know the Jumbo Grocery store. However, I will have to be more careful to take note of the Mara etc.

Rita says I can try making print-outs from her computer. That is the one thing… if anyone comes to visit… I want a cheap little printer that I can hook to my Mac laptop. And Ant liquid, powder, gel, traps, sticky things etc, etc, etc. Anything to get rid of these incessant little beasts that I can feel crawling up my legs and down my arms and over my dishes at every moment of the day.


acuriosity said…
Hey Elaine:

Trying to keep up with your blogs -- but not able to take them all in. You sound a little frustrated so keep your chin up!

Jacqui B.
hilary slater said…
you go girl!! you've got the right attitude...and yes, the struggle is evident, but so is the energy in your "voice"...that this is an adventure and you will only benefit from it..

PLUS there are lots of us reading who WANT TO BE THERE TOO!! :-)
MARKING: How to save your life:
#1 have the students exchange papers and mark them together, either in groups of 2s or as a class when its a spelling test or something...
SPELLING TESTS ARE FUN for you!! They have to learn the list, then you test them then they pass papers one desk forward (if you have desks :-) ) and they mark the answers as you read them...
good 30 minutes of class taken up! :-)
and they get better at spelling and vocabulary!
AND NO MARKING TO TAKE HOME>>>AND they get nervous cause its a TEST so you have some power :-)
#2: have students mark their OWN stories, and check their own spelling, and correct their own work, and give themselves a mark...
which you them record..
NOT for all their work, but for 50% of it...and the way they mark themselves (honestly or not!) Is what you mark them on...self-evaluation is an important learning module!!
#3 Seminars Seminars Seminars..
and have the students evaluate each other....on paper or in the dirt, or vote with their hands!! (Rating 1-10 and kids vote with hands to show their evaluation) count the hands..thats the mark ..
too much marking makes teachers burn out too fast, and then they have no energy to teach with!!
(or cook dinner at night!) ...
#4 stop giving homework :-) The canadian government just published in the paper today a serious suggestion to do away with that kids can have a life :-)
give them tests instead....much easier to punish with..
Especially SUDDEN tests, that they get no warning about...
#5 Have them write the stories in class, and the read the stories to the class out loud in the next you dont have to read them in your DOWN time!! Then the class goes through the story and corrects the grammar etc, and it leads to discussion..
and you dont have to mark them!
That should help you through another week ...
so glad the stompin'laundry is working!!
I"M an advocate of LEAST EFFORT teaching and cleaning...
just sent off my taxes today..and will finalize my EI application tomorrow..
my birthday on thurs, iain's next week..
and then...?????
If I'm getting EI i'm not supposed to travel...but theres a 2-week gap right now until it starts....
What would happen if I arrived on tues or wed? Would you or someone from the school be able to pick me up at Teg airport??
I've checked flights...around 750. for a week.. 1 or 2 stops..
the other option is to come in june, and visit at the end of your teaching, and we take a wee holiday together before you return to canada??
What do you think???
RSVP this week since I have to make booking decisions..
Keep your pecker up! (as my mother says :-)
Hil &Iain
hilary slater said…
let me know if i have to get a bus to the school (and which one and how!!) or if someone is able to meet me???
SOOOOOOOO EXCITED!! We'll deal with those grade 8s!!!!
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