After a few more visits, we have settled into a natural routine. My day starts with morning recess. This is the most social part of the day since the students love to stand around with us in the courtyard and practice their English. Martin usually plays basketball with the boys while the girls like to look through my traveling pictures and ask me questions about my life in America.
After recess, I spend one period with one of the English teachers in a 3rd grade classroom. Here, I help the teacher by going over pronunciation with the students and conversing with them. Sometimes, she has songs and games for the class and I help regulate them, as they get very excitable and often start to yell. I’ve noticed that this is a challenge in the younger students’ classrooms. The teachers do not seem to have any rules about this chaos and just yell over the students. When this happens, I start to whisper at the students since I realize that my presence is the reason for their excitement. Then, they begin to quiet down because they can’t hear me otherwise. While my method does work, it makes me question the teacher’s system (or lack thereof) and why she does not implement a system of clear rules and consequences.
After English class, I go back downstairs to my CT’s room and work with one particular student with special needs, who for privacy reasons we will call Jim. While I have worked with other students as well, the past few weeks has been set up so that I can work extensively with Jim in mathematics. I really appreciate this layout because it helps me to form a bond with him and we have been working well together as we get more used to each other’s presence. Jim is also at an academic level where I can help him since I have learned numbers in Greek. One of the most gratifying moments I’ve had is when I realized that Jim had been practicing numbers in English so that he could be better able to communicate with me for our weekly lessons. It is definitely a challenge dealing with the language barrier, as I cannot always express my feelings or instructions to the students, but moments like these definitely make everything better.
Now, I only have one more visit left to the school and find that the time has flown by very quickly. Although the economic crisis has definitely hit the 3rd School of Stavroupolis, the teachers work so hard to make the school a safe place for the students. While I do question some of their teaching methods, I cannot question the care that the teachers give to the students or the efforts they make to deal with the recent budget cuts the school has faced. I am very sad to be leaving such a great place!