In January and February, a 4-week session is held for the new teachers recruited by Enseno por Argentina.
After the first two weeks of classes, the pre-service teachers are paired with 1-2 other student teachers as well as a mentor teacher, and they then teach a 2-week summer school, using their brand-new skills!
The school is open to 5th- to 8th-grade students in the community, who register voluntarily. The program runs for 3.5 hours (three 1-hour classes plus two 15-minute breaks) in the afternoons. The teacher candidates teach one-hour classes each day in language, math or English. When they are not teaching, they continue to attend sessions, such as the ESL workshops I presented today.
As I do for every session I teach, children to adults, I took some time to prepare the learning space as best I could with the limited materials on hand...
After setting up, it was time for lunch. I followed an EPA staff member through the grounds to the other side of the school, where lunch was being served. This gave me the opportunity to see some more of the school -- I was particularly intrigued by what appeared to be a small swimming pool in the courtyard of the Kindergarten class. (Sure beats the tiny water tables in our Canadian kindergarten classes, lol!)
There were exasperated sighs and signs of frustrated exhaustion at the lunch table. But these were balanced with healthy doses of optimism and determination, and the student teachers spoke enthusiastically about their experiences to date, and asked me relevant and meaningful questions about my own classroom experience, too.
After lunch, the children began to arrive, and many of the teacher candidates left to prepare for the classes they were teaching, or to help with registering the students.
The afternoon began with all the students and teachers gathering in the courtyard for some opening exercises, including a cross-grade warm-up activity (not unlike the Tribes sort of thing we might do at home). Then it was time for raising the flag.
They seem to posess a keen sense of national pride. Even the stray dog that trotted to and fro throughout the afternoon did not seem to distract the students during this important time!
"Engaging English Language Learners"
Now it was time for my two sessions on engaging English language learners. The practical and transferable strategies in both sessions were well received, as were the "Canada" pencils I had brought along as workshop swag!
Later in the day, after the children had left, the student teachers participated in a closing reflection activity designed and run by a group of four of them.
The School Bus
Finally, it was time to head home on the bus; a schoolbus travels to four central locales, dropping people off thoughout the city. (Many of the teachers then take additional buses or trains out to the suburbs. The suburbs, as I learned, are generally built around a big park with a primary school, church and govt office building, surrounded by smaller parks, and smaller parks still. Houses line streets that run on a diagonal out from the big, central park. )
While waiting for and riding the bus, I was able to chat and learn from several more teacher candidates, making for an interesting close to an already fascinating day. The generous and hospitable spirits of the people involved with this project filled me once again with hope and optimism. I feel very fortunate to have been invited to participate in this incredible opportunity.