Saturday, September 27, 2008

parents gone and parent-teacher conferences

My parents left on Wednesday morning. Their last few days here, they finished up some sight seeing, and also Mom picked up a reminder of her visit - a virulent case of food poisoning. Not a pleasant souvenir. On Saturday night, before she got sick, we went downtown to see Puebla Nights, a free dance show that includes folklorico and less traditional dances. We were given free tickets to the Sunday afternoon show as well, but since I'm always at church until after 2, and the show starts at 1:30, I'll see who I can give them away to.

Tuesday evening my dad and I went out to Abraham and family's house. We enjoyed rice, soup, and lots of laughter. Abraham and I acted as translators for my dad and his mom and brother since my dad doesn't speak Spanish, and they don't speak English.

Last night Abraham and I watched Happy Feet together. He had observed in my classroom one time and had also heard my many stories about the young Elvis music lover in my room, and he commented that this child acted and sounded a lot like Mumble the Penguin in Happy Feet. I hadn't seen the movie, so we arranged a time when we could, and guess what? My student is uncannily like Mumble. Who knows? He may end up saving mankind through organized tap dancing.

On Friday morning, this child asked for prayer for his dad. "He's hyper," said the boy, "And it makes him sick." From earlier conversations of other teachers, I had some idea what the child actually meant: his dad has been diagnosed with hypoglycemia. A bit different from being hyper, but the word exchange is an easy mistake to make when you're only 6.

Before watching Happy Feet, I (and all the other PCS teachers) had parent-teacher conferences in the afternoon. I didn't have particularly difficult conferences, although one parent wasn't exactly thrilled with what I had to say about their child's prospects for moving on the second grade next year. It is early days yet, so it's not certainly that this child won't move up, but if he continues as he is, he won't move on.

This morning three other PCS teachers, Abraham, and I played soccer at the PE field. We had forgotten to contact the high school students to see if they were interested, so we had an adults-only game. Actually, it was quite fun. We played World Cup and then girls vs. guys short field.

At present, I'm tied to the apartment because there are two men here removing the rotting bathroom window frame and repairing two years' worth of water damage in the surrounding walls. They'll be back Monday afternoon to put in a new window. My landlady left the money to pay them and told me to give it to them "only if you see everything looks good." How am I supposed to know? Too much responsibility! But she's not living here now, so I have to try to judge their repair work. In the meantime, I can't go anywhere which means I can't be lesson planning. Oh fooey.

Friday, September 12, 2008

one week anniversary and parents in town

This has been quite the week! Just after I wrote the previous blog posting, one of my really good friends came to my classroom. This was a friend that started out as my Spanish teacher, but over time the "lessons" became time to get to know each other better - still speaking Spanish though. Around Easter last year, he asked if we could become more than friends, but at the time I didn't know if I'd be returning to Puebla, so I said we'd better just stay friends and pray for further direction. Summer came, I returned to the United States, and we both prayed, along with other friends and family who knew the not-so-secret secret of our more-than-friendship.

When I returned to Puebla, we again began spending lots of time together, walking around the neighborhood and talking. On Friday, Abraham asked again whether we could be more than friends, and this time I said yes. Now we're officially dating, but no general announcement has been made to anyone (however I suspect most people at PCS and Dios es Amor are fully aware of the relationship...)

Over the summer I told my parents that Abraham and I had become more than friends and that I wanted them to visit Puebla close to the beginning of the school year. They arrived in the morning on Wednesday and will be here for two weeks. Their timing is quite good: they'll be here for Independence Day and the various celebrations included in that.

Meanwhile, with parents in town and a new dating relationship, school and the accompanying demands continue. I have stories every day from my classroom that make the other teachers laugh. For example, today one of the children was saying his memory verse, Proverbs 13:13 which says, "He who scorns instruction will be punished, but he who obeys commands will be rewarded." His interpretation, "He who scorns construction will be punished..."

The one young fellow who struggles with behaving well in class adores Elvis, so today I tried a little bribery. If he gets a smiley face for an hour of good listening, he can listen to one Elvis song on my computer. I've been singing "Blue Suede Shoes" all day, because he chose to listen to that song twice as his reward for two good hours. I hope this works for more than just today - not much else has worked so far, but he did quite well in class today.

The kids finished decorating their piñatas today. Oi, what a mess!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A day at a time

This year is going to be significantly different from last year. My current students are younger in more ways than just age. Although I only have six students, sometimes it feels as if I had thirty! What do teachers in the US do with ESL students learning to read for the first time? I have my hands full with just four learners. The other two students know how to read, but English is not their first language, so they don't always understand what they're reading. I'm just going to have to take this year one day (even hour sometimes) at a time.

My kids are a unique bunch. The final student arrived Wednesday, and introduced an entirely different dynamic to the class. He does not know how to behave in a classroom setting. He also does not read or write even his own name, but he does have an extremely active imagination and will build forts out of his pencils and then begin shooting them down. He'll also begin a rousing rendition of "Oh When the Saints" at random intervals of the day - and he can sing it with full gospel style. Yesterday he solemnly asked another teacher to guard his "very important wallet" because "it has money in it, and Elvis Presley's driver's license!" This child is six!

We've begun making piñatas in class in anticipation of Independence Day September 16th. I have been teaching the students brief lessons about Mexico. Making piñatas with a group of 5 - 8 year olds isn't the easiest thing to do, but they sure love doing it, and they are learning how to follow directions and get along with each other as they layer on goopy messes of watery flour and scrap paper.

Today we gave piñata-making a break and concocted avocado popsicles instead. May not sound very appetizing to some, but they taste quite good. We had and avocado/sugar/lime juice mess on the table an some of the kids by the time the stuff was made, but it all turned out pretty well.

Last night five of us single teachers from PCS went out to eat downtown at a restaurant named El Balcon. You can't get better food for better prices anywhere else. Sunday is the birthday of one of the ladies, so Janelle and Lindsey went downtown ahead of Bethany, Flo, and I to decorate the table and hide a cake in the kitchen. When we'd finished dinner, our waiter turned off the lights over our table and brought out the cake with the lit candles.

We took a brief walk downtown afterwards and admired all the festive lights and decorations put up for Independence Day. It's reminiscent of Christmas in looks, because Mexico's colors are red, green, and white.

Last week I signed up for flute lessons at the seminary a few blocks from here. It will be the first time I have lessons from someone who can actually play the flute! Back in 7th grade, when I first started lessons, my teacher knew the fingerings and how it should sound, but couldn't play the flute himself. That was the only time I actually had lessons, although I've practiced sporadically since then. This will be an adventure.