With the help of Lindsay in the International Pre-practicum office and my program coordinator Rocío, I now student teach in two different schools in Ecuador. In addition to Colegio Menor, a private school, I now student teach at Carlos Aguilar, a public school. Carlos Aguilar is very representative of the public school experience in Ecuador. The younger grades have class from 7:00am-12:30pm, followed by class from 1:00pm-7:00pm for the older grades. The class sizes range in size, with closer to 20 or 25 students in K-1 and between 30-40 in upper elementary school. I am student teaching in a 3rd grade classroom of 36 students in the morning shift.
It’s clear that managing the student population is a challenge for administrators and educators in the public school system. Unlike 8 hour school days in public schools in the United States, in Ecuador students only attend school for 5-6 hours a day. This is a logistical solution to manage high concentrations of school-age children throughout Ecuador. With limited classrooms and teachers, this is the solution implemented in the public school system.
My 3rd grade classroom in Carlos Aguilar feels chaotic and crowded, especially compared to the 1st grade classroom at Colegio Menor. It’s very discouraging to see how few resources the public schools have, especially compared to the private schools in Ecuador. Carlos Aguilar is only a 3 minute walk from Colegio Menor, but students at Carlos Aguilar aren’t given nearly the same opportunities as their counterparts in the private school. I still haven’t found a single book in the classroom and it feels impossible to do anything but have the students copy what’s written on the board.However, my cooperating teacher explained to me that Carlos Aguilar has actually shown great progress in the past few years. She said that a few years ago 3rd graders couldn’t read, which explained why there were no reading resources in 3rd grade. The fact that the students now have basic reading skills is an incredible improvement that will advance their development in the following years. There is also better parent-teacher communication than in the past. My CT recognizes that her students certainly deserve better than what they’re given, but she focuses on the positive changes in the past few years, which I admire.