Colegio Menor is actually very similar to a bilingual school in the United States. In fact, the schools are even divided into elementary school and upper school (as opposed to the different system of básica and colegio that Ecuador uses). The classroom set-up is also basically the same as in the United States. In my classroom, there is a carpeted area to one side that is used for reading, morning meeting, extra space for groups to work, etc. The desks are individual, but set up in groups of three or four. The teacher often gives class from the front of the room, where there is a white board and a projector. The teacher’s desk is located in the front right hand side of the classroom. In the back of the classroom the students have their cubbies. The teaching styles, at least of the teachers of English subjects, is similar to that of the United States. Although my cooperating teacher is Ecuadorian, she went to an American school in Ecuador. I believe this influenced her teaching style. She uses many similar classroom bonding techniques, such as morning meetings. She also uses similar ways of controlling the classroom. For example, she rings a xylophone to quiet people down, plays a song for clean up time, and has a chart for discipline.
Nonetheless, there are still some aspects of Ecuadorian culture that are present in the school. My teacher has told me that some of the other teachers sometimes are late to commitments or take their time eating breakfast/lunch. In Ecuador, time is very relative and not all people are worried about being punctual. In addition, similar to Ecuadorian culture, the culture of the school is very friendly and open. Children call all of their teachers by their first names. Teachers will joke around with other teachers in front of the students. At parents meetings, the teachers great the parents with hugs and kisses on the cheek (typical greeting of Ecuador). The teachers and students all great each other and say bye to each other each time they enter and exit the room.
It has been very interesting for me to get the opportunity to work at Colegio Menor. It sometimes is confusing for me because I am not positive what cultural traditions or language I should be using. However, it is amazing to see how easily some of the teachers and students switch between two different cultures and languages. In my opinion, bilingual education is a fantastic concept.