21 December 2010

Sometimes, I miss stuff

The title basically says it all. I'm super happy here, and I'm not super sad to be staying a year without going home. I was prepared to have vacations traveling in South America, not skiing at Hatcher's. But now, everyone's facebook post is "Its so great to be home!".

And so maybe I want to be in Alaska too.

Which sucks, but I'm sure it will pass. I have stuff to look forward too, like spending Christmas in Milagro with Bahieh and Maryam, who are amazing. (And, did I mention Milagro is warmer than Otavalo, which means it is tropical compared to Alaska?) I spent yesterday on a field trip with some of my favorite students, which deserves a whole post to itself. And I got a message from Lewis and Clark, which means they didn't forget me! (and consequently means, hello scholarship applications).

But anyways: Family, I miss you and our christmas tree and the ease of making hot cocoa or chai tea in the microwave. I also miss our coffee maker; this instant powder stuff is just not the same.

Friends: I miss you and going skiing with you and kayak sledding and christmas carols and sitting in front of fireplaces, and candy canes. And I miss the feeling of coming together after  a long time apart, which I haven't actually experienced yet, but it sounds amazing. Keep updating your facebooks, I want to live vicariously through you. And group skype, please!

I miss you!

19 December 2010

Cheating Hurts

You know how people say "Cheating just hurts yourself"? Well, I think thats true on some level.

And on another level, completely, completely false.

Cheating does not just hurt the person who is cheating. It hurts their classmates who now have to re-take a different test. It hurts the other students in different classes who also have to take a new test based on 5 people who were dishonest. And it really, really hurts the teacher who not only feels like she failed the class but was also betrayed by her students.

This past one was a hard week.

The final I wrote was not hard. I took questions directly from the book. I had multiple choice and fill in the blank, using words that we had all talked about in class. I made sure all the instructions were easily understood and translated them into Spanish if it was beyond their capacity to understand. And so I was incredibly disappointed to find that 7 of my 14 kids recieved below a 50% on their test, one as low as a 15%. If they had even read their book, they would have been able to get at least a 60%. If they had done their homework and studied slightly? 80%. And so the fact that only 4 of my students got an 80% or higher really bugged me. It meant that they didn't have the inspiration or motivation from me as a teacher to do their homework or care enough about learning English to pass a final.

To make matters worse, I found out on Friday that someone from another class had stolen my test, thinking it was his, and then gave it, half filled out, to one of my students, who claims she didn't use it for the test, and yet went to the bathroom for 15 minutes during the test. Not that it did any good; still a failing grade, but really? It was just terrible on so many levels.

I had some talks with some of the teachers in the school, and my dad, and Maryam, which allowed me to put some perspective to the World Suck I was feeling. So I understand that it is not solely my fault, that the same students that fail my class fail pretty much all their other classes as well, and that if they are not willing to put the effort in, I can't make them do anything. But you know, I still feel the world suck.

And, I have to write another exam. Part of me wants to make it crazy hard. But that would be unfair to the large percentage of my class that didn't cheat. And I don't want to give up on my students. Because I'm responsible for their education, right?

So next trimester, after break, there will be some changes in my class. There will be a new test, which they will hopefully do better on. There will be written expectations that need to be signed by their parents. And hopefully, a few more of my students will "Get their Learn on" (Thanks Mr. Ripley for that quote!)