A typical day at Colegio Menor closely resembles a typical school day in the United States. Parents drop off their little ones and help them settle into the school day. My CT has morning work ready for each student at their seat, so parents can help students get started and motivated with this work. The work is occasionally individualized. For example, if a student struggled with a concept or was not able to complete a task the previous day, this may be the focus their morning work. The work is mentally stimulating, but is not too challenging or dull. This work really seems to prepare the students for the day. The teacher uses this time to pull students individually and practice the vocabulary of the unit. Once they finish, they can choose a book to read. Many times, students will form their own groups and read books to one another based on their own interpretation of the pictures. Next, the students go to morning circle, during which they go over the weather, date, classroom chores, and schedule of the day. This part of the day resembles the style of morning meeting I saw when I worked in a Sheltered English Immersion classroom. The teacher focuses on the concepts, but there is a big emphasis on language as well. For example, the students were having great difficulty pronouncing “Thursday”, so the practice of the “th” sound turned into one of the focuses of the morning circle.
After morning circle, half of the class goes to a special such as art or music, while the other half stays in the classroom for a small group lesson. It is beautiful to see that the school puts such value into music and art. As we lose funding for art and music programs in the United States, this Ecuadorian school teaches their students how to play instruments such as guitar and piano, has singing lessons, and incorporates all forms of art such as ceramics, painting, and drawing. The half of the class that stays in the classroom receives instruction in a 1:4 student to teacher ratio. Usually this instruction is in math. The students in specials then return to the classroom, and the other half of the students has their turn in specials. I really love this system and how it provides quality instruction and time for development in the arts simultaneously.
The students then go to centers. The centers are designed so the students can move from center to center independently. Centers include dramatic play, arts & crafts, blocks and manipulatives, writing, listening center, and fine motor skills. I love that students thoroughly work at each center before moving onto the next center. Teachers monitor their progress and movement from center to center while simultaneously granting these students autonomy. I think this was accomplished through much practice and a gradual release of independence. The centers are also designed well, so that each is appealing and students do not rush through one center to get to the most appealing center. There are three to four Velcro spots below the name of each center. When they enter a center, students Velcro their nametag under the name of the center. This way, students know if a center is already full. After centers, the students go back to a circle. Depending on the unit, they engage in a whole group lesson that usually focuses on Language Arts, Reading, or English Vocabulary. I leave after this point in the day. Before I head back to the United States, I am going to try to stay a whole day because I would love to see what else occurs while I am gone!