Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Guatemalan Private School Experience

I am into my second and final week of my Guatemalan teaching experience.  This year I am teaching at a private school.  Like the public schools in this area of Guatemala, the school day is only about four hours long.  In order to maximize the school building to its fullest potential, primera or grades K-6 meet in the morning and basico, or grades 7-9 meet in the afternoon.  I was told that students beyond ninth grade take courses at career academies or go straight into the workforce.  Students that desire a military career can take an exam for entry into a military academy.

Since the school day is short, so are the class periods.  The English classes meet for approximately thirty-five minutes.  Primera students study English two days a week and basico students study English three days a week.  There is no dedicated textbook for the younger students, so I have been teaching topics such as colors and parts of the body.  The students at my assigned school use Santillana's Friends series beginning in third grade.  On some days I teach up to eight different classes.

Like private schools in the United States, students at this school are responsible for the cost of tuition, books and uniforms.  These expenses add up to about $300 per year, a bargain by our standards, but out of reach for many average Guatemalans.  This Evangelical school has partnered with several churches in the United States in order to provide scholarships to those who would not otherwise be able to attend, as the public schools only go up to the sixth grade.

All in all, I am enjoying my experience.  Since I kept in contact with teachers that I met last year and have a better feel of the town, I have had the opportunity to enjoy many social outings with my Guatemalan counterparts.  These conversations have been rich and I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to increase my awareness of various educational systems.  My adventure down here will continue for another week or so.  In the meantime, continue enjoying your well-deserved break.

My Schedule
A Classroom

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